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Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Most investigative journalism is conducted by newspapers, wire services, and freelance journalists. Practitioners sometimes use the terms "watchdog journalism" (though that has a broader meaning) or "accountability reporting".
An investigative reporter may make use of one or more of these tools, among others, on a single story:
- Analysis of documents, such as lawsuits and other legal documents, tax records, government reports, regulatory reports, and corporate financial filings
- Databases of public records
- Investigation of technical issues, including scrutiny of government and business practices and their effects
- Research into social and legal issues
- Subscription research sources such as LexisNexis
- Numerous interviews with on-the-record sources as well as, in some instances, interviews with anonymous sources (for example whistleblowers)
- Federal or state Freedom of Information Acts to obtain documents and data from government agencies
University of Missouri journalism professor Steve Weinberg defined investigative journalism as: "Reporting, through one's own initiative and work product, matters of importance to readers, viewers, or listeners." In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed. There are currently university departments for teaching investigative journalism. Conferences are conducted presenting peer reviewed research into investigative journalism.
British media theorist Hugo de Burgh (2000) states that: "An investigative journalist is a man or woman whose profession it is to discover the truth and to identify lapses from it in whatever media may be available. The act of doing this generally is called investigative journalism and is distinct from apparently similar work done by police, lawyers, auditors, and regulatory bodies in that it is not limited as to target, not legally founded and closely connected to publicity."
- Julius Chambers of the New York Tribune had himself committed to the Bloomingdale Asylum in 1872, and his account led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration, and, eventually, to a change in the lunacy laws; this later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its Inhabitants (1876)
- Bill Dedman's 1988 investigation, The Color of Money, for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on racial discrimination by mortgage lenders in middle-income neighborhoods, received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and was an influential early example of computer-assisted reporting or database journalism
- Brian Deer's British press award-winning investigation for The Sunday Times of London into the worldwide MMR vaccine controversy which revealed that research, published by The Lancet, associating the children's vaccine with autism was fraudulent.
Notable investigative reporters
- Donald Barlett and James B. Steele
- David Barstow
- Lowell Bergman
- Walt Bogdanich
- Sarah Cohen
- Bill Dedman
- Seymour Hersh
- Jane Mayer
- James Risen
- Gary Webb
- Bob Woodward
- Nellie Bly
Awards and organizations
- Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting
- Investigative Reporters and Editors Award
- Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting
- George Polk Awards
- Worth Bingham Prize for investigative reporting
Bureaus, centers, and institutes for investigations
- Italian Association on Investigative Journalism
- Bureau of Investigative Journalism
- California Watch
- Center for Investigative Reporting – Berkeley, California, USA
- Center for Investigative Reporting - Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Centre for Investigative Journalism
- Center for Public Integrity
- Investigative News Network
- Investigative Reporting Workshop
- Investigative Reporters and Editors
- New England Center for Investigative Reporting
- Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
- Global South Development Magazine
- Exposé: America's Investigative Reports (PBS documentary series)
- The growth of media conglomerates in the U.S. since the 1980s has been accompanied by massive cuts in the budgets for investigative journalism; a 2002 study concluded "that investigative journalism has all but disappeared from the nation's commercial airwaves"; the empirical evidence for this is consistent with the conflicts of interest between the revenue sources for the media conglomerates and the mythology of an unbiased, dispassionate media: advertisers have reduced their spending with media that reported too many unfavorable details; the major media conglomerates have found ways to retain their audience without the risks of offending advertisers inherent in investigative journalism
- Steve Weinberg, The Reporter's Handbook: An Investigator's Guide to Documents and Techniques, St. Martin's Press, 1996
- Investigative Journalism: Context and Practice, Hugo de Burgh (ed), Routledge, London and New York, 2000
- "A New Hospital for the Insane" (Dec., 1876) Brooklyn Daily Eagle
- "The Color of Money". Powerreporting.com. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H (2011). "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent". BMJ. 342:c7452: c7452. doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. PMID 21209060.
- Ziv, Stav (10 February 2015). "Andrew Wakefield, Father of the Anti-Vaccine Movement, Responds to the Current Measles Outbreak for the First Time". Newsweek (New York). Retrieved 19 February 2015.
- Boseley, Sarah (2 February 2010). "Lancet retracts 'utterly false' MMR paper". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- McChesney, Robert W. (2004). The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the 21st century. Monthly Review Press. p. 81. ISBN 1-58367-105-6., citing Just, Marion; Levine, Rosalind; Regan, Kathleen (Nov–Dec 2002), "Investigative Journalism Despite the Odds", Columbia Journalism Review: 103ff
- "Current State of Investigative Reporting", talk by Seymour Hersh at Boston University, 19 May 2009
- Video of the 2010 Logan Symposium at University of California Berkeley's Consequences of Investigative Reporting" panel, in which reporters from the Sahara Reporters, the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern, The Washington Post, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, and The El Paso Times talk about the dangers investigative reporters face; their experiences range from threat to life and limb for reporting on corruption in Africa, to subpoenas aimed at a journalism professor and his students for attempting to bring to light a miscarriage of justice; a Pulitzer Prize winner describes reporting on national security as her sources face internal inquisitions; a veteran reporter in Las Vegas talks about taking on casino moguls and organized crime; while a reporter covering the Mexican border explains how she has survived the violent reality of the undeclared war on our border, April 2010
- Typewriter Guerillas: Closeups of 20 Top Investigative Reporters, by J.C. Behrens (paperback) 1977.
- Raising Hell: Straight Talk with Investigative Journalists, by Ron Chepesiuk, Haney Howell, and Edward Lee (paperback) 1997
- Investigative Reporting: A Study in Technique (Journalism Media Manual), by David Spark, (paperback) 1999.
- Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism That Changed the World, John Pilger, ed. (paperback) 2005.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Investigative journalism.|
- Global South Development Magazine a magazine of development reporting and investigative journalism
- Global Investigative Journalism (U.K., created 2003)
- International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (U.S., founded 1997)
- Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE, since 1975)
- Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) was established in 2003 in South Africa.
- Nepal Khoj Patrakarita Kendra, or Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ, Lalitpur, established 1996)
- Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ, founded 1989)
- Centre for Investigative Journalism (London, launched 2003)
- Bureau of Investigative Journalism (London, launched 2010)
- Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (Jordan)
- Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR, U.S., since 1977)
- Center for Public Integrity's iWatch (U.S., since 1989)
- Investigative News Network (INN, U.S. created 2009)
- ProPublica (established 2007)
- Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI, established 2002)
- Investigative Reporting Workshop (American University, created 2008)