The Investigative Journalist
What's involved in being a media watchdog?
What is it?
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Who is it?
- Investigative Journalism, or investigative reporting, is about the watchdog role of journalists in American society.
What's it about?
- Investigative reporters uncover facts and write articles that expose waste, wrongdoing, mismanagement, fraud, conflict of interest and abuse of authority. Their stories promote change and reform.
- Investigative journalists have a long and proud history that stands alongside more conventional journalistic practices. Source: Investigative Reporters and Editors
What skills are needed?
- A crucial duty of journalists is to serve the public interest by acting as a watchdog on government, business, education, health, environment, safety and other institutions.
- That duty is particularly important where agencies and institutions restrict the flow of information. Source: Investigative Reporters and Editors
- The investigative journalist digs beneath the surface to help readers understand what's going on in a complex world. Gene Roberts, Editor, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer
Investigative journalists use reporting techniques that allow them to tell stories by understanding the societal factors that shape their content and impact.
What tools are needed?
- Capabilities required:
- critical thinking, proactive curiosity, noticing critical details, piecing facts together, understanding behavior, detective skills.
- writing with clarity, relevance, brevity, readability, consistency, accuracy.
- editing and revising for clarity, relevance, brevity, readability, consistency, accuracy.
- an eye and ear for still and motion images, natural sounds, layout, design.
- competency with new digital media and Internet tools, social media and participatory journalism
- visual storytelling, visualization of data, and visual design and presentation
- computer, laptop or tablet with software apps for editing text, audio, photos and video
- digital camera that shoots stills and video and a digital audio recorder
- social networks for staying connected
- website, blog, wiki or other content management system for publishing the results of an investigation
- Investigative Journalism Wikipedia
- Pulitzer Prizes for Investigative Reporting Wikipedia
- Pulitzer Prizes for Investigative Reporting Winners and Finalists Pulitzer Prizes
- Investigative Reporters and Editors IRE
- Investigative Reporters and Editors Tip Sheets IRE
- Criminal Justice Journalists Information Center CJJ
- Student Press Law Center SPLC
- First Amendment Center
- Freedom of Information Act U.S. Dept. of Justice
- National Freedom of Information Coalition Center NFOIC
- Society of Professional Journalists SPJ
- Society of Professional Journalists - Freedom of Information SPJ
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press RCFP
- Investigative Journalism Education Consortium IJEC
- Poynter/ News-University Freedom of Information Free course on how to file a Freedom of Information Act request
Resources for Courses »
© 2012 Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke email home page