Module JG220

Investigative Journalism

Module author

Linn Washington, jr.

Temple University

Learning objectives

After studying this module, you will be able to:

  • Define investigative journalism and explain what distinguishes investigative journalism from everyday journalistic inquiry;
  • Explain why there should be more investigation in journalism, but why instead bandwagon journalism and churnalism can be found more and more often;
  • Reflect this genre critically.
Study point 1
Reading extract Investigative Journalism


Why Open School of Journalism believes that Investigative Journalism is important zu know

Working as a journalist today requires the ability to utilize a variety of resources regardless of the type of journalism you are interested in pursuing. One of the most well-known forms of journalism from the past and today still remains as investigative journalism. If you have a knack for investigating information and seeking the truth, becoming an investigative journalist may be the right career choice for you.

What does investigative journalism involve?

Investigative journalism requires research into various legal documents, paperwork, contracts and other information from different sources for each piece written. Interviewing potential witnesses and others involved in each piece you are writing is also extremely important in investigative journalism.

If you have an interest in pursuing social justice, conspiracy theories, government, science and other forms of research, investigative journalism is the branch of journalism that is most fitting for any form of work or writing. Solving investigations, reporting on the latest news and keeping up with trade secrets in various industries are all factors in working in investigative journalism and as a journalist yourself.

Investigative journalists are also notorious for using anonymous sources and interviews when completing pieces in order to protect the identity of those who have given information to write an article. Additionally, it is investigative journalism that is also known for working together with whistleblowers and those who are seeking methods of spreading truth and information to the general public against the government and top agents around the world. Investigative journalism is known is one of the most risky forms of journalism, as it is often demanding and requires a bit of risk in order to publish piece that are widespread and recognized worldwide.

Many investigative journalists work around the world and are willing to travel to different cities, states and even out of the country in order to complete a story or to obtain the necessary interview, evidence or information necessary to write the proper article. Because investigative journalists depend on evidence, traveling is often necessary in order to ensure the accuracy of a story and to find more clues and evidence when piecing together a news story or article, regardless of whether it is for web, print, local or international news.

Investigative journalist work objectively, without including their own personal opinions on various stories they are covering into their own articles. When writing as an investigative journalist it is always important to remain objective regardless of your own personal feelings, thoughts and emotions that may be involved in the case or the news story you are covering. Gaining respect in the field of investigative journalism is more likely when you stick to facts while also understanding the importance of citing sources and remaining objective at all times.

Mediums used in investigative journalism

Whether you are interested in writing locally, for a local television show or if you have an avid interest in sharing news and information online, working as an investigative journalist allows for many different mediums and methods to work in. Working from home, locally, in print or online are all possibilities for those who choose to pursue a career path in investigative journalism professionally. The more familiar you become with different mediums when publishing, the easier it becomes to seek out and find new clients and different publishers who are interested in your stories and the type of articles you have available to share.

Building a reputation as an investigative journalist

Building a positive and professional reputation as an investigative journalist is not possible overnight, especially with the number of professional writers, reporters and journalists working around the clock to share news and information with the world. In order to maintain credibility while building a professional reputation as an investigative journalist it is always important to stick to facts while always giving credit where it is due when writing news pieces and reports to be published. The more credible your stories are as well as sourced, the easier it is to make a name for yourself regardless of the type of stories you are investigating and reporting on professionally. 

Always be sure to maintain objectivity when writing as an investigative journalist, whether you have chosen to publish your work to a private blog of your own or if you are working for a local magazine that is printing to thousands of citizens in your area. Editing, fact-checking and sources are the key factors to becoming a successful investigative journalist in the field whether you have obtained a degree to work as a writer or if you are working on your own in hopes of making a name for yourself locally, online or even internationally.

Understanding different types of journalism including investigative journalism is a way to know more about the type of work you are interested in working on or reading yourself. Although investigative journalism is one of the oldest and most well-known forms of journalism it is still widespread and used worldwide in both local print magazines as well as in online communities and newspapers.