Ten quick tips for investigative reporting

byInternational Center for Journalists
Nov 21, 2011 in Investigative Journalism

An investigative report is one that reveals new findings based on the work and research of the reporter. Here are some quick tips from an ICFJ Anywhere online course to get you started.

10 QUICK TIPS ON INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

  1. Do some preliminary research before launching an investigation or even pitching it to your editor.
  2. Know the laws a) so you don’t break them and b) to know how to use them to your benefit.
  3. Support your work with documents when possible. Think about what documents you need and how you can obtain them.
  4. Don’t rush into interviews. Get as much information as you can first, so you can ask intelligent questions when you do get the interview and so you will be ready to challenge evasive answers.
  5. Fact-check everything – from documents to information obtained through sources.
  6. Avoid undercover investigations and ambush interviews unless absolutely necessary.
  7. Always allow the subject of your investigation a fair chance to respond.
  8. Don’t be chained to your story in the face of evidence to the contrary. If you find that your hypothesis is wrong, be prepared to shift gears and change your story.
  9. Keep in touch with your sources on a regular basis
  10. Follow-up on stories

Useful Websites

International Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism
Danish Association for Investigative Journalism
The Federation of Arab Journalists (has a section containing press laws in some Arab country)
Freedom House in your language
Google search in your language
International Center for Journalists
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
International Media Support
Investigative Reporters and Editors, en Espanol
Scoop, for Eastern and SE European investigative reporting
World publications

English Check the Resource sections of the following organizations:
Investigative Reporters & Editors
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (The Center for Public Integrity)
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Expose: America’s Investigative Reports

This post was originally part of an online course by ICFJ Anywhere, which supports journalists worldwide with free training on a range of topics. Courses are offered in a variety of languages including English, Arabic, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and French. For the latest ICFJ Anywhere course offerings, click here.