Investigative Journalism should never disappear as long as humanity exists

A dedicated investigative journalist and fearless fighter for human rights, Daphne Caruana Galizia would have been 55 on August 26, 2019. Remembering her talents two years after she was murdered for her work. The Deutsche Welle ( ) Top Story title called Daphne „The woman who broke the mold“. On October 16, 2017, Caruana Galizia, who was 53 then, died when her car exploded near her home.
In July, a viral video showed a Pakistani journalist up to his neck in floodwater — a microphone in hand, reporting against all odds. The video could be said to symbolize the situation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in many countries around the world. Despite being metaphorically ‘up to their necks,’ receiving threats and considerable pushback, courageous journalists are continuing to expose the truth and the public’s grievances and stand up for human rights.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, a mother of three sons, was one of those journalists for more than 30 years of her life. Among other things, she reported on government corruption and organized crime on the small Mediterranenan island nation of Malta.
The 2019 ranking of press freedom worldwide released by Reporters Without Borders ( ) illustrates how distressing the sitaution for freedom of the press is today. Substantial parts of the world map are colored red and deep orange, representing the state of freedom of the media is “difficult” or “very serious” (respectively). On that map, Malta has dropped a considerable 30 positions since 2017, the year of Daphne’s murder. It now ranks 77 on a list of 180 countries.
The Deutsche Welle: Nevertheless, her work is continued by her family and dedicated journalists from 15 countries who are honoring her life’s work in the online Daphne Project, ( ) which ensures that even a bomb cannot silence the truths revealed by Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Reporters Without Borders ( head: ‘Journalism in Europe has been weakened’
Jamal Khashoggi, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Jan Kuciak: Their murders are among the most serious attacks on press freedom and a symptom of a deep-rooted problem, says Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders.
Almost one person in two in the world does not have access to freely reported news and information. As Europeans, we can count ourselves lucky that we enjoy “this freedom that allows us to verify respect for all the other freedoms.”

In the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), our continent is by far the one where freedom of the press is the most widely observed. But let us not turn a blind eye on the fact that, in recent years, a dam has burst and this cornerstone of our democracy has been seriously damaged.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul made us aware of the sometimes horrifying violence inflicted by some countries on journalists.
However, Europe is not immune. In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered because of her investigations into a money laundering scam. In Slovakia, Jan Kuciak was killed because he was investigating a large-scale tax evasion scheme. These murders are among the most serious attacks on press freedom. They are also the symptom of a deep-rooted problem.
Journalism in Europe has been weakened by relentless, and often hyped-up, anti-media rhetoric by some political leaders, either in power or hoping to get there. Coverage of the yellow vest protests in France has provoked a profound dislike of journalists, sometimes going as far as rape threats directed at reporters.
The answer to the question “what is investigative journalism has not yet been found. This issue provokes constant debate among experts, practitioners, media theorists and ordinary people.
Some people consider investigative journalism to be the pinnacle of journalistic skill and that investigative journalists are a special kind of journalist. This type of journalism must not and will never be extinguished. If there were no investigative journalists, we would not have known about the many events in the world and all the accompanying events. Other people consider investigative journalism a fad. If only it was a way to label good, old, thorough journalism differently. Thorough and thorough journalism could not have been imagined without the constant running for news, the gathering of information and all-day “skin-tapping”.
Investigative journalism definitely exists as a category in practice. It is basically good and quality journalism. It has its own specifics.The name points to research, information gathering, deeper, analytical dealing with a news, topic, phenomenon or person. journalism, (based on solid craft, ethical and moral criteria), should we try to explain and “fix” reality? Usually journalism is the transmission of information. Investigative journalism is “digging” below the surface. It’s no coincidence that the title of one of the best handbooks of investigative journalism is “Aim high, dig deep” by Lucinda Fleeson.
A good journalist needs to explain what he wants to say in a simple, convincing and understandable way. A good way to do this might be to compare it with some commonly known data or your everyday situation.
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For example, a police job can serve as a comparison.
Many reporters are like constable police officers: they regularly monitor the situation in the area for which they are responsible. They react if something happens. They are the so-called beat reporters.
In some cases, the police officers are guarding and guarding the scene so that witnesses remain unknown and the traces are destroyed. Where permitted by financial and organizational conditions, specialized police officers do so.
The same situation is in the journalistic business. Most journalists respond to events with their reports. Those journalists who have specific knowledge of some areas are sometimes tasked solely with monitoring the areas for which they are specialists.
Investigative reporters (as forensic criminologists) discover what has happened on the basis of existing “clues”. They often predict what is about to happen. They are not psychics, though. Their powers are not supernatural but stem from the fact that they know how to use specific journalistic knowledge and methods. Like forensic forensics, they can “read the clues.”
There is no single definition of investigative journalism.
Media theorists, journalists, and editors who have written about investigative journalism based on practical experience take different approaches when trying to define investigative journalism.
Common Definitions Used:
Investigative journalism is one of the most difficult journalistic jobs. It is demanding. It takes a lot of effort and time. It is also exciting, engaging and rewarding. Investigative journalism is nothing more than revealing what some individuals, companies or government organizations do not want the public to know. Investigative journalism allows for wrongdoing. It is based on the belief that editors, reporters and photojournalists can promote human rights and redress injustice. (David Everett, Detroit Free Press)
The fundamental thing is that research is the work of a reporter, and not just conveying the results of someone else’s efforts. A story must speak of something that is personally interesting to readers, viewers or listeners; about something about their daily lives. It’s important to discover information that someone is hiding from the public (IRE / Investigative Reporters and Editors Handbook)
The investigative story must contain the original work of the journalist, not just the transmission of other people’s findings. A research story must point to systemic problems, not just individual cases. A research story must explain complex social problems, detect corruption, misconduct and abuse of power (Lucinda Fleeson, Aim high, dig deep)
There are three levels of journalistic reporting. At the first, passive level, the reporter reports on the public event and what was said there. At another level, the reporter tries to explain or interpret what happened or was said. At the third level, the reporter looks for evidence of what has been said. In other words, reporting may be general, specialized, or investigative Investigative journalism wants to provide information that someone seeks to prevent. An investigative journalist not only searches for common, uncontroversial informants, but for those who know disturbing secrets and are angry or upsetenough to expose them to him. (David Spark: Investigative Reporting – A Study in Technique: Focal Press / Linacre House – Oxford, Great Britain, 1999.)
There are features of investigative journalism that all authors agree on.
Despite the different approaches, some elements are inevitable when trying to define the term investigative journalism. The most commonly used definition is a combination of the ideas of various authors according to which (no matter what the mass medium is) a research story must:
– be based on the original investigative work of the journalist
– disclose information that an individual, organization or authority seeks to conceal from the public
– to point out a problem of general interest

Not every journalist is necessarily an investigative journalist. This is another question that the journalists themselves do not have a unique answer to. Eleven experienced journalists, members of the Board of Directors of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. (IRE) Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. tried to answer this question by checking three different claims:
Every journalist is an investigative journalist.
Every journalist should be an investigative journalist.
Any journalist can be an investigative journalist.
It would be great if every journalist were an investigative journalist, but this is unfortunately not true. Most journalists are not investigative journalists for a number of objective reasons. But is it wise to say that every journalist should be an investigative journalist? Some journalists also have to write about pets, energy savings and the like. Therefore, any journalist can be an investigative journalist. There’s nothing unusual about that. He just needs to be curious and want to find out if the world is good or bad. (Steve Weinberg, The Reporter’s Handbook – Bedford / St. Martin’s, Boston-New York, 1996)
Journalists who write or prepare daily radio and TV articles on pets or energy savings can be investigative journalists.
For a story to meet the criteria of investigative journalism, it must address a topic that is not relevant to just one person or a narrow circle of people. The story must be the result of the work of a journalist who investigated the topic, revealing information that someone was trying to hide.
It is not crucial to the value of the investigative story whether the journalist dealt with the corruption of the most popular politicians or the embezzlement of a local utility company.
A pet reporting journalist can do this, for example, through stories about unusual pets, stories about people who have dedicated their entire lives to animals, or stories with tips on how to get and care for a pet. Stories like this can be great journalistic work, but they are certainly not investigative journalism.
If the same journalist explores how to get exotic pets from abroad, and finds and documents examples of smuggling and animal abuse, customs corruption, etc. he has made an investigative story.
Investigative journalism requires much, knowledge, skill, effort, time and money.
If you want to discover something that is intentionally hidden or seriously exploring what others have not dealt with, it takes longer than usual for simpler journalistic stories. You need to prove that there is something hard to see or to explain what seemed completely unclear. The longer the research time, the higher the costs.
Theoretically, it is possible to make a good research story in a short time and with little money. This is an exception, not a rule. Time and money are especially important limiting elements because journalists cannot influence them. , but if he can’t get enough time and money he won’t be able to make a quality research story.
Due to the time and expense involved, there are almost a small number of freelance journalists who choose to engage in investigative journalism, working independently and then selling their stories to interested newsrooms. they only deal with investigative journalism.
In a small number of newsrooms, there are journalists who are solely the task of an investigative story. Rare are the publishers who can pay for full-time teams that deal solely with investigative journalism. would have a wealth of experience as a journalist-reporter in working on topics dealt with by journalists from his team – hence research topics.
But it does mean that a research editor should have all the attributes that are crucial to the successful work of any editor specializing in a particular type of topic, because the research topic can talk about culture, politics, crime, ecology, ballet, or any other field.
Proof that this is possible is one of the most successful newspaper research editors, David Boardman (, who has won a number of journalistic awards with his research teams.
With his research team from The Seattle Times, he has won the Pullitzer Prize several times, the most respected journalism award in the world, comparable only to the Nobel Prize for scientific disciplines.
In addition to publishing research stories in the regular issue of the newspaper, SeatlleTimes periodically prepares special editions with major research stories or issues that include all the stories in a series of research articles that deal with a particular issue. David Boardman argued that, in order to be successful, the editor must take on many, often completely opposing, roles.
Among other things, explains Boardman, a successful editor is obliged to his journalists: reporter, coach, teacher, student, psychiatrist, conductor, reader, librarian, diplomat, photo editor, graphic editor, defense attorney, prosecutor, humorist, confessor … (- 20 HATS OF AN EFFECTIVE EDITOR)
A successful research editor must be a great long-term strategist and pragmatic tactician who has a clear plan. There is a need to know at all times what to do if the plan fails. Working on a research story can be extremely frustrating. After long and hard work on a topic, you may find that it is not possible to make the story you planned.
David Boardman’s advice is: make an editorial plan for the entire project, constantly monitor its results and feasibility …. and don’t hesitate to change the plan and even give up the story if the analysis shows that you cannot control the time, cost or story itself. Boardman also provided a number of tips for research editors on how to imagine, develop and “launch” a successful research story (David Boardman; / Birthing the Big Project)
The emergence of investigative journalism is tied to the US. Events crucial to the development of investigative journalism have taken place in America, such as the founding of the first organization to bring together investigative journalists and editors (IREs), and the Watergate affair, which forced the resignation of then-President Richard through the Washington Post daily. Nixon.
The founding of the IRE and the Watergate affair, however, took place some thirty years ago. The roots of investigative journalism go back much further – to the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 19th century, political and jurisprudence in the United States expanded the freedom of public speech and that of newspapers. With the advent of new immigrant groups in the United States and allowing women to vote, newspapers have been given an increasing role in the election. This meant a huge increase in the impact on public opinion.
Messages of populism, a movement that began in the late 19th century, fueled by the economic situation and efforts to help the middle class, farmers, and small industrialists and traders, spread through newspapers in the South and the Midwest that supported populist goals.
The movement’s spokesmen were new-type journalists. A group of journalists, linked by a sense of mission, polemically and sensationally uncovered examples of abuse of wealth and political power, political corruption and illegality. From 1902 to 1920, they published more than a thousand articles on major companies and political corruption. (E. Foner, J. A. Garraty; The Readers Companion to American History – Boston, Houghton Miflin 1991)
That group of journalists exposed corruption in big cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco … and they were targeted by big companies, such as the oil giant Standard Oil. They were characterized by a high level of social responsibility, a style that aroused public emotions, writing skills and an unbridled ambition to become a conscience of society.
They were very talented journalists with high literary ambitions. Some of them are known in history as successful writers. No one but their contemporaries has ever heard that these writers were engaged in journalism, especially that they founded investigative journalism.
This group of journalists included, for example, the famous novelist Theodore Dreiser and Jack London.
When it was noted that the British critique of angry rich people and politicians caught the attention of the audience, publishers continued to encourage journalists to investigate journalism. Newspapers were no longer just transmitting news. Newspapers were making news.
Publishers paid excellent fees for journalists who were able to make news and to make readers eagerly await their next story. They were given enough time to prepare well. They were left to choose the topics themselves. Ordering an article from the rules became an exception. In public life, there was no longer a person who could avoid scrutiny and criticism of newspapers, no matter how rich or politically powerful. Newspapers that used the possibilities of investigative journalism were constantly gaining new readers.
Those newspapers that didn’t do it at first had to start. The aim of their publishers often could no longer be to attract new readers. They were late, so they had to settle for trying not to lose too many readers.
Investigative journalism carries various types of risks. The main risk is the possibility of abuse and mass manipulation. There have been a number of such abuses and manipulations in the early history of investigative journalism.
The populist style of writing and the widespread acceptance of the view that any criticism or accusation published in a sensationalist manner was justified and unquestionable, allowed for stereotypical cases.
In addition to the targets hitherto, mainly capitalists, immigrants to the United States (Irish, Slavs, Jews …) have been exclusively negative in many texts as early as the early 20th century. Such an attitude was justified by pointing to an alleged conspiracy against honesty, chastity and American morality.
Conspiracy theory was easily accepted by the public. One of the best examples of the pernicious impact of such “investigative” journalism is the famous “Sacco and Vanzetti case.”
Two Italian immigrants, a carpenter, Nicola Sacco, and a fish trader Bartolomeo Vanzetti have been sentenced to death. They were executed in August 1927, although there was no compelling evidence in court that they had committed the murders they were charged with.
Newspapers played a huge role in creating the euphoria about the trial and spreading conspiracy theory. In the sequels, they published texts that ruled the defendants. Because they were poor immigrants who spoke poor English.
Journalism that abuses existing stereotypes and creates new ones, and encourages intolerance, xenophobia, chauvinism, violence is not investigative journalism. Such journalism is not journalism.
It also does not satisfy the elementary criterion: to transmit information neutrally (from the source to the reader, the listener or the viewer).
The devastating effect of sensationalist “investigative” journalism (which contributed to the condemnation of poor immigrants by the public in the Sacco and Vanzetti case long before evidence was presented in court) was warned 74 years after their execution by forensic pathologist Dr. Henry Lee .The subsequent expert examination of Dr. Lee, a famous American forensic pathologist, the most respected criminal criminal of today, showed that in this case (and some other well-known court cases from the recent past), the court erred because there was no convicting evidence.
In all these cases, the disputed court decisions were in line with the public’s view. They were driven by the frenzied repetition of stereotypes in “investigative” stories.
photo: Dr. Henry Lee

Investigative reporters contributed to the resignation of one US president.
Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after an affair of wiretapping with political opponents involving his close associates. The case was initiated by an investigative team from the Washington Post. Other media joined in. This time, a series of genuine investigative stories were made that really revealed both the scandal and the government’s attempt to cover up the scandal. .Modern investigative journalism did not start with the Watergate affair. That case created the legend of an investigative journalist as an American hero. Many newsrooms subsequently organized research teams.
The sudden popularity of investigative journalism has again reminded of the risks that threaten to counterbalance serious, analytical and documented journalism.
After the Watergate affair, investigative journalism went wild. Everything was becoming a target and anyone could be attacked. It has become common ground that a research story that does not cause one’s resignation is not good enough. If you can’t put someone in jail, forget the story – Leslie L. Zaitz, an investigative journalist with The Oregonian in Portland, described it plastically.
One year after Watergate, in 1975, a group of journalists founded the Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. / IRE, which still exists.The first major joint action to celebrate the IRE occurred in 1976, when he was killed. Don Bolles, reporter for the Arizona Republic (one of the founders of the IRE). Bolles was liquidated while investigating political corruption and organized crime in Arizona. This resulted in the engagement of a team of IRE volunteer journalists.
Reporters from 27 news, radio and TV news outlets have continued an Arizona-wide investigation into Bolles. The result was 23 published investigative stories on corruption and crime.
That’s when the saying was first used: “You can kill a journalist, but you can’t kill a story.”
Since 1978, IRE has been based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
IRE ( has been bringing together American journalists and journalists, editors, lecturers and coaches, and journalism students from around the world for years.
In many other countries, investigative journalists’ organizations were later established in many other countries. Their members share information and work on stories together.
At the 2nd World Conference on Investigative Reporting in Copenhagen, in May 2003, the World Network of Investigative Journalists was established, to which all national, regional and continental organizations of investigative journalists were invited.
Although the history of investigative journalism began in the press, it has long been not a privilege of the print media. Using the specifics of electronic media, successful investigative stories are made by radio and TV journalists today. There are journalists, who publish research texts only on the Internet.
photos: (Public Radio International)


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