Rumours of the death of investigative journalism have been greatly exaggerated. This book is proof enough of that. Examples from the corporate and alternative media across the globe highlight the many imaginative and courageous ways that reporters are still “kicking at the right targets”.
In his Foreword, Peter Taylor, the award-winning reporter who has been covering terrorism and political violence for 45 years, says of investigative journalism: “It makes headlines, sells newspapers, gets viewing figures and tells the public things they do not know but have a right to know. It speaks truth to power.”
Donal MacIntyre, another award-winning reporter and documentary director, hails the Channel4/Observer Cambridge Analytica probe, in his Afterword, for confronting “the most significant threat to democracy in the last 50 years”.
Brian Winston takes us on a whistle-stop history of investigative journalism from as far back as the fifth century BCE. Rachel Oldroyd argues that if long-term investigative journalism serves the public then the public should be persuaded to pay for it. And Mark Daly tells of his many attempts to get at the truth over the killing of Stephen Lawrence 25 years ago. Finally, in this section, James Oliver, of the BBC’s flagship investigative series, Panorama, highlights the ways in which journalism is rapidly changing. Just a few years ago, leaks would be handed over discreetly in a smoke-filled pub or arrive suddenly in a parcel through the post. Now, you’d need a lorry for the number of documents involved. A big one.
The second section puts the spotlight on international cases. Tatenda Chitagu reports on how a brave tradition of reporting survives – just – in Zimbabwe. Hanna Liubakova shows how journalists in Belarus are finding ways to circumvent censors. Antonio Castillo focuses on Ojo Público (Public Eyes), the Peruvian muckraker, which has revolutionised Latin American investigative journalism. The best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winner, David Cay Johnston, argues that the most important scandals are right in front of the journalists but – for reasons that he explains – they often miss them. And Richard Lance Keeble examines in depth the work of the Australian activist journalist Antony Loewenstein.