UPIU Investigative Reporting Workshop for UTAR Feb 2012


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An introduction to investigative reporting for journalism students at Malaysia's Universiti Tungku Abdul Rahman

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UPIU Investigative Reporting Workshop for UTAR Feb 2012

  2. 2. DEFINITION In-depth reporting, based on extensive primary investigation and documentation, which digs beyond publiclyavailable information and exposes informationof public interest which is not in the public eye. ESSENTIAL Primary sources Documentary evidence Multiple sources
  3. 3. DEFINITION“Investigative journalism is critical and thorough journalism.”Dutch Association for Investigative JournalismCritical means that journalism is not merely passing on „news‟ that already exist. It implies news, which would not be available without any journalistic intervention. This can be done by creating new facts, but also through re-interpretation or correlation of facts already at hand.Thorough means that one makes an own substantial effort, either in quantitative terms (much time spent in research, many sources consulted) or in qualitative terms (sharp questions formulated, new approaches used), or a combination of both. EU’s Journalism Fund
  5. 5. INFORMATION OF PUBLIC INTEREST BUT NOT IN THE PUBLIC EYE Covert government policies (US rendition policy; domestic eavesdropping) Human rights abuses (My Lai massacre, Abu Ghraib scandal) Hidden linkages between corporations and public officials/institutions, leading to conflicts of interest (Eg pharmaceutical industries influencing distribution policies) The money trail. Hidden sources of funding (fossil fuel industry funding attacks on climate science)
  6. 6. INFORMATION OF PUBLICINTEREST BUT NOT IN THE PUBLIC EYE Pollution by powerful mining companies Police reports Trials held „in-camera‟ Internal company reports Audits (financial, environmental) Surveillance reports
  7. 7. WHY IS IT NEEDED?o Increases transparency Exposes hidden linkages and trails Demands accountability from authorities and powerholders Watchdog role: can help to ensure that public institutions and individuals adhere to human rights, transparency, due process, fairness and justice. Key role in strengthening society‟s institutions: government, judiciary, security services, big business, by forcing transparency
  8. 8. TYPES OF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS Documentation of pollution by powerful resource companies Miscarriages of Justice: - exposure of wrongful convictions (eg “The Thin Blue Line”, documentary by Errol Morris; Amanda Knox 2011 acquittal, Birmingham 4) Exposure of systemic abuses Spotlights organised crime
  9. 9. TYPES OF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS THREE CATEGORIES IDENTIFIED BY EU‟s JOURNALISM FUND: Uncover scandals. Aimed at detecting violations of laws, rules or norms of decency, by organisations or individuals. Review of policies or functioning of government, businesses and other organisations. Draw attention to social, economic, political and cultural trends. Aimed at detecting changes in society. Source: EU Journalism Fund
  10. 10. PULITZER PRIZE WINNERSwww.pulitzer.org/bycat/Investigative-ReportingINSURANCE RORTS:2011 Paige St. John of Sarasota Herald-Tribune For her examination of weaknesses in the murky property-insurance system vital to Florida homeowners, providing handy data to assess insurer reliability and stirring regulatory action.POLICE CORRUPTION:2010 Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman of Philadelphia Daily News For their resourceful reporting that exposed a rogue police narcotics squad, resulting in an FBI probe and the review of hundreds of criminal cases tainted by the scandal.CONFLICT OF INTEREST:2009 David Barstow of The New York Times For his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.
  11. 11. IMPACTSIR can result in: Resignations of leaders Change of governments Policy overhauls Acquittals of wrongly-convicted prisoners Redressal of injustice (eg compensation to victims) Instigate public debate Focus attention on neglected issues eg indigenous health Change in Laws
  12. 12. TOOLS Public databases Surveys Shareholder listings Company records (illustrating relationships and parent companies) Whistleblowers / „deep throats‟ Freedom of Information acts
  13. 13. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN IR AND GENERAL REPORTING General Investigative  Goes “off-agenda” Follows the news agenda, ie  Initiated by journalist/media scheduled court organisation, regardless of prevailing hearings, press news climate conferences, company  Long research period, with dedicated announcements, report reporter or “investigative unit” team launches  May require surveillance methods Fast and short, little time for like hidden cameras, off-record deep research interviewing, concealed identities Beholden to 24-hour news  Independent of 24-hour news cycle cycle  Requires extensive documentary Any reporter on duty can proof cover  It‟s a process Report often just needs direct quotes
  14. 14. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN IR AND GENERAL REPORTINGInvestigative Reporting IS NOT: Investigative Reporting IS:  Watchdog journalism  Daily reporting  Leak journalism  Exposing how laws and  Single source reporting regulations are violated  Misuse of information  Paparazzi journalism  Holding the powerful accountable **Please see UNESCO Manual for Investigative Journalists (online) Source: „Digging Deeper‟ by Sheila Coronel of Stabile Centre for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University
  15. 15. QUOTES“Investigative journalism is skeptical and keen to bring information that someone wants to be kept secret, into the public light.” European Union’s Journalism Fund“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… 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 it is closely connected to publicity.” UK media theorist Hugo de Burgh"We should hold public officials to the highest possible standard.” Seymour Hersh
  16. 16. GOAL“In 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 tell the documented truth in depth and without fear or favour.It is to provide a voice for those without one and to hold the powerful to account. Its to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. ” EU Journalism Fund
  17. 17. CELEBRATED SAMPLES OF IREric Lichtblau & James Risen Bush Let US Spy on Callers without Courts, in New York Times 2005http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.htmlStory Behind the NYT Wiretapping Story http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2008/03/the_edu cation_of_a_911_reporter.htmlBill Dedman The Color of Money in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 1988 http://powerreporting.com/color/Seymour Hersh Torture at Abu Ghraib in The New Yorker 2004http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/10/040510fa_factSeymour Hersh My Lai Massacre (Lieutenant Accused of Murdering 109 Civilians) in St Louis-Post Dispatch 1969http://pierretristam.com/Bobst/library/wf-200.htm
  18. 18. RESOURCESEuropean Union Journalism Fundwww.journalismfund.euPhilippine Center For Investigative Journalismwww.pcij.orgThe Pulitzer Prizeswww.pulitzer.orgUNESCO Manual: Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalistsunesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001930/193078e.pdf