In an era when corruption runs rampant, investigative reporters who can uncover wrongdoing are more important than ever.
Yet globally, investigative journalism suffers from a lack of funding, resources and training, among other gaps.
The state of investigative journalism and models for the future were the topics of a recent Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) event. Here are a few highlights.
- Investigative journalism is a "bipolar industry," according to Drew Sullivan of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and author of the CIMA report "Investigative Reporting in Emerging Democracies: Models, Challenges, and Lessons Learned."
"We have the media development world and we have the journalism world, and often they're not connected." He said advocates largely outnumber reporters in media development organizations, and there must be more cooperation between these two entities.
"The development world has to reach out to these investigative reporting organizations that are around and bring in the expertise of these people," particularly on issues of safety, sustainability, legal challenges and developing investigative editors, Sullivan said.
According to the CIMA report "Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support" by David E. Kaplan, only 2 percent of media development aid goes to investigative journalism, yet there's no such thing as an investigative editor in the developing world, Sullivan says. "Investigative editors are extremely rare," he said. "I've met less than five in my 13 years of working abroad." This lack of structure limits the potential of investigative journalism.
- The trajectory for the development of investigative journalism is changing, said Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative journalism. Traditionally, investigative journalism followed a linear progression as it developed within a given country, starting in partisan newspapers, shifting to a "lone wolf phase" of "individual crusaders within professional news organizations doing investigative reporting" and finally transitioning to a "truly professional phase, where investigative journalism becomes institutionalized," Coronel said.
But the digital revolution and other shifts in journalism have altered this path. Coronel said she envisions a different sort of investigative ecosystem, featuring "small corps of paid, professional journalists doing this high-quality, painstaking, artisanal work of investigative journalism, surrounded by a larger network...of bloggers, citizens, advocacy groups and partisan publications doing investigative or accountability reporting."
For more insight into the state of modern investigative journalism, watch the event's livestream here.
Updated 1/18/2013 3:30 EST
Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Silly Eagle Books.