Investigative journalism can be seen as watchdog in our society. The public need the deeply truth of the issue, what is hidden under the surface? Therefore, investigation is becoming more and more important.
Investigative journalism has a long history. Since the appearance of journalism in the mid-nineteenth century, the development of democracy in the society is impressive. Especially in the American colonies and some European countries, journalism plays a significant role in the political issue in the society. (Aucoin, 2005) Originally, journalism operates investigative journalism in order to disclose the deep truth of the political process to the citizens. The main purpose of investigative journalism at that time is to promote transparency in the elite group and maintain democracy in the community. Investigative journalism, therefore, is an important part in journalism and social development. Hash (2013) The essay will examine: firstly, the emergency of investigative journalism in the history; secondly, the function of investigative journalism in modern society; thirdly, the future of investigative journalism in the digital era.
Traditional investigative journalism began with the printing. The booming of investigative journalism was from 1970s, after the famous investigative reporting—Watergate investigation that leaded to a remarkable influence on the political situation with the crackdown of US president Richard Nixon. As a result, investigative journalists are regarded as “watchdog” in the society. Investigative journalist focus on exposing the truth hidden by the powerful. Increasingly, news investigative organisation established, for example, 60 Minutes program in CBS which has a high-quality investigative reporting. (Aucoin, 2005) Indeed, investigative reporting has a long tradition of exposure and reveals the truth under the behaviour which might hurt the interest of the public, such as the corruption in the government.
In twenty century, many reforms happen in media and journalism. However, the role of investigative journalism in the society remains to provide an in-depth story which relate to what citizens concern. An in-depth story is the fundamental of investigative reporting, and during this process, investigative journalists need to put the efforts on rooting out facts that people want to hide for their own interest but the detriment of society. The purpose of the investigation should be to uncover the “wrong behaviour.” (Roger, 2012) Moreover, as extension of investigative reporting, the issue about human rights, environmental situation and health problems which connect to ordinary people matters which recently become popular in investigative program. Meanwhile, resulting from globalization, international issues are growing up, and investigative journalists nowadays are not only interested in local stores but also in global issues. At the same time, the impact of investigative reporting trend to spread around the world. Under the large amount of source from the whole world, in this way, the obligation of investigative journalists to ensure the information accuracy is more important than before.
It is a digital age, and broad wide application technology in journalism brings both opportunity and challenge to investigative reporting. (Kaplan, 2013) The social media platform gives a chance to journalists to collect more stories from various groups in the society. Facebook, Twitter and blogs on the websites, for example, attract increasing numbers of people to get involve into this new community. Investigative journalists, therefore, prefer to use social media as a tool to build a close relationship with the ordinary people. It is beneficial for investigative journalism to produce valuable in-depth reporting. On the other hand, however, as a consequence of mass communication, investigative journalism are facing more obstacles to exposure the truth. Marsh (2012) The necessity of discovering secrets that also as the main function of investigative journalism requires journalists to verify the sources in order the ensure the accountability of the reporting.
Furthermore, because of the tendency that social media are becoming more popular among the citizens, too often, people choose to read or watch the scandals that post by citizen journalists or bloggers instead of the issues that published by professional journalism. Grieve (2008) In this way, social media, to some extent, determined the reputation of professional investigative journalism. (Kaplan, 2013) As a result, compare to the old days, the impact of investigative journalism on political policy and social reforms is decreasing. To face these challenges, investigative journalists need to maximize their specialize obligation to produce quilted story that reveal the darkness in the society that betray the public’s interest while it is different between investigative reporting and disclose celebrities’ affairs on the Internet.
With the process of digital application in modern society, the demand for high-quality investigative journalism is increasing. Parry (2005) The evolution of mass communication is both opportunity and challenge for investigative reporting. To maintain the principal and function of investigative journalism, journalists need to consider how to improve their professional skills and always keep the obligation as being responsible reporter. Pavilk (2008)
Aucoin, James (2005). The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press.
Kaplan, David E (2013). Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support [Adobe Digital Editions]. Retrieved from: A Report to the Center for International Media Assistance.
Haines, Roger (2012). Investigative Journalism In a digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/05/02/in-search-of-the-truth-investigative-journalism-in-a-digital-age/
Grieve, Fergus (2008). Investigative Journalism: Facing A Drought? Retrieved from: http://www.reportageonline.com/2008/09/investigative-journalism-facing-a-drought/
Hash, Chris (2013). Journalism as a research discipline. Pacific Journalism Review, Vol. 19(2)
Retrieved from http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/chris-nash/journalism-as-research/
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Parry, Robert (2005). Why we Need Investigative Reporting. Retrieved from:
Pavlik, John Vermon (2008). Media In the Digital Age. (pp.234-240). New York, Columbia University Press.