The Footnotes

COMMUNICATIONS, JOURNALISM & WRITING

What is investigative journalism?

Are you ready to ask the important questions?

Have you seen the movie Spotlight? With Rachel McAdams in it? I watched this on a flight to London without watching the trailer, and with no preconceptions of what I may be in for. OMG.

One. It is an incredibly eye opening movie.

Two. It really shed light on what a career in investigate journalism would be like.

If you think you would like a job that exposes official lying, raises public awareness of inconvenient truths, and provides intelligence and ammunition to people trying to achieve policy change? An investigative journalist is a journalist who deeply investigates concealed public matters, violations of laws, crimes, injustice and corruption done by governments, organisations and individuals. Investigative journalists do not have to report daily. They have to make research reports. In order to make reports, they have to consult a lot of sources.

What is investigative journalism like in the 21st Century…

Top tips for approaching this career…

  • Journalism is a lifelong apprenticeship. Be immersed in the craft. Study the best: ask, how is this piece working?
  • If something feels dodgy, get digging. Own up to what we don’t understand; clarify that thing.
  • Seek critique from good writers and from experts in your field.
  • Don’t talk too much. Listen. Ask questions: ‘What are the questions?’ is a good one.
  • Imagine the reader is an intelligent 12-year-old. (Brighter than we are but lacks information and context).
  • Anger may drive us and direct our research; it doesn’t belong in the final draft. Rage diverts attention from the information.

The job of an investigative journalist involves lot of risks. At times,  they receive death threats and have to lose their lives. To be one, it takes courage, conviction, determination and the ability to continue in the face of hopeless odds.

If this sounds like it’s for you, find the course you need.

 

What is investigative journalism?
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