In the view of Journalismfund there is absolutely no final concept of investigative journalism. On the contrary – it needs to be a vivid process to shoot for investigative journalism and then any definition must be scrutinised time and time again in an ongoing debate among journalists. However we would like to give rise to this debate with the addition of some crucial points from several parts around the globe.
The first choice of Swedish TV’s investigative magazine yves steiner, Nils Hanson, offers the following definitions on investigative journalism published in his book Grävande Journalistik from 2009:
Critical approach – focus is about what does not work and also in one method or another can be defined as anomaly.
Important subject – simply a question of importance to the common good can motivate the level of effort and resources, that very well may have to be committed to the investigation plus the criticism uttered inside the publication.
Own initiative – journalists/editors decide, the most important thing.
Own research – the reporter gathers information and documents, sometimes regardless of tough resistance.
Own analysis – the details gathered and the documents are evaluated. An expert can help inside the analysis, but publication does not depend upon what someone says.
Exclusivity – everyone learns important info, that else would not have been in the open.
“Investigative journalism is vital and thorough journalism,” based on the definition of the Dutch-Flemish association for Investigative Journalism, VVOJ.
Critical means that journalism is just not merely passing on ‘news’ that already exist. It implies news, which would stop being available without the journalistic intervention. This can be accomplished by creating new facts, but in addition through re-interpretation or correlation of facts already on hand. Thorough implies that one makes an own substantial effort, in either quantitative terms – lots of time spent in research, many sources consulted, etc. – in qualitative terms – sharp questions formulated, new approaches used, etc., or a mixture of both.
Based upon this definition we discern three forms of investigative journalism. Incidentally these categories might overlap.
Uncover scandals. Geared towards detecting violations of laws, rules or norms of decency, by organisations or individuals.
Review of policies or functioning of government, businesses and other organisations.
Highlight social, economic, political and cultural trends. Targeted at detecting alterations in society.
Center for Investigative Journalism
According to the Center for Investigative Journalism at London City University, ”UK and US colleagues tendto define IJ in their moral and ethical purpose and obligation, instead of like a slightly more serious version of ordinary news reporting.“
From the service of the Public Interest, our purpose is to uncover corruption, injustice, maladministration and lies. As a duty to readers and viewers as well as self-protection in a hostile legal environment, investigative journalism seeks above all to inform the documented truth detailed and without fear or favour. It can be dexmpky02 provide a voice for anyone with out them as well as to retain the powerful to account. It’s to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Could it be critical and thorough? Yes, but investigative journalism is skeptical and keen to bring information that someone wants to be keep secret, in the public light.
Sheila Coronel through the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University in New York City in the book Digging Depper from 2009 has five definitions of, what investigative journalism is NOT, and three of what exactly it is:
Investigative journalism Is Not Really:
Single source reporting
Misuse of data
Investigative journalism IS
Exposing how regulations are violated
Holding the powerful accountable
Mark Lee Hunter
An investigation on investigative journalism by Mark Lee Hunter called Story-Based Inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists defines investigative journalism by delineating it from ‘conventional’ journalism:
“Investigative journalism involves exposing to the public matters which are concealed – either deliberately by someone within a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding. It takes using both secret and open sources and documents.”
“Conventional news reporting depends largely and often entirely on materials given by others (like police, governments, companies, etc.); it really is fundamentally reactive, or else passive. Investigative reporting, on the other hand, depends upon material gathered or generated throughout the reporter’s own initiative (this is why it is often called “enterprise reporting”).”
“Conventional news reporting aims to produce an unbiased image around the world since it is. Investigative reporting uses objectively true material – that may be, facts that any reasonable observer would agree are true – toward the subjective goal of reforming the entire world. That may be not just a license to lie in a good cause. It is a responsibility, to find out the reality to ensure the world can change.”