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#Tip: Follow these investigative journalism Twitter accounts

August 13th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Here is a list of 50 Twitter accounts you should follow if you are interested in investigative journalism.

This list was curated by David Schick, a full-time journalism student at the University of Georgia and published in March.

He has helpfully created a Twitter list of the 50 accounts.

Hat tip: Anthony De Rosa.

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#Podcast: How to get started in investigative journalism

Copyright: Thinkstock

Copyright: Thinkstock

In this week’s podcast we speak to experts in investigative journalism on how best to get started in the field. Aside from taking a course or getting some early work experience, both invaluable elements of training for a journalist on any beat, there are some skills, tools and qualities which every trainee should bear in mind.

We speak to:

  • Christopher Hird, managing editor, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • Paul Lewis, special projects editor, the Guardian
  • Marshall Allen, investigative journalist, Pro Publica
You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.


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#Podcast: Examining data-driven health reporting

February 15th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Podcast
Image by a.drian on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by a.drian on Flickr. Some rights reserved

This podcast looks at how health data can be a source of stories.

We hear how journalists are using information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, scientific reports and open data as sources. technology editor Sarah Marshall speaks to:

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Read this advice on internet security

February 7th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Image by zimpenfish on Flickr. Some rights reserved


Lyra McKee, who founded The Muckraker, a blog about investigative journalism, has written a post published on the Online Journalism Blog all about online security.

In it she tells journalists to never assume a computer is secure.

McKee, who is based in Northern Ireland, uses the example of an investigative journalist, “a confidente of IRA terrorists”, who found his phone had been hacked by people who said they could also break in to his computer.

Following the hacking attacks suffered by the Washington Post and New York Times, she goes on to look at how Hushmail, said to be a more secure version of Gmail, and also Google have reportedly complied with government requests for information.

The biggest issue for a journalist’s digital security is not a hacker’s ability to guess their password but the government’s ability to obtain their data through legal wrangling.

McKee then looks at different security solutions – including TrueCrypt, Retroshare and Tor – and gives four tips for journalists, including to use “burner emails”.

Read her excellent post to find out more.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Investigative journalism research

Last month UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation) launched a Global Casebook of Investigative Journalism, which looks at examples of investigative journalism as well as “the cutting-edge techniques and high standards developed within this network”.

In an announcement UNESCO says the casebook “serves as a key knowledge resource, providing a valuable learning opportunity for journalists and media professionals, as well as for journalism trainers and educators”.

See the casebook here.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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#GEN2012: ‘If journalism isn’t there to protect people, people get hurt’

May 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Online Journalism

Monetisation of digital journalism, described earlier today as the “elephant in this room” by CNN’s Peter Bale, formed the basis of an afternoon session at the News World Summit in Paris today, with a focus on financing investigative journalism.

There was no dancing around the importance of the issue. As Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute put it:

The challenge, as Paul [Steiger] pointed out, is if we don’t do this people die. If journalism isn’t there to protect people, then people will get hurt.

This is not just a matter of economics to keep jobs, this is about economics that support democracy.

I feel passionately that we need more experiments, more subscription models, more donation models. We also need to figure out how we can tell the public the value of investigative journalism … even if they don’t support if financially they can support it in other ways.

He called for more creative solutions. Online it is “going to be increasingly difficult for traditional media”, adding that recent figures showed 68 per cent of online display advertising in the US controlled by the five big technology firms.

Our difficulties are fairly well documented so we need to start looking for some solutions that are different.

Also speaking about the issue on the panel, ProPublica founder Paul Steiger said he expects the decline in print advertising accelerate, “so the challenge of getting more and more revenue from online is going to be greater rather than less”.

He said ProPublica, which is funded largely by donations, is “looking at the possibility of subscriptions, but we need to make all of our stuff accessible and so the challenge is to figure out to how to keep in the conversation and how to find a variety of sources of revenues.”

He added that investigative journalism is significant for democracy and therefore “worth supporting in multiple ways, including charitable contributions”.

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Knight Foundation senior advisor receives Markoff award for investigative reporting fund

Senior advisor to the president of the Knight Foundation Eric Newton has received the Markoff Award for the Foundation’s support of investigative reporting.

The Knight Foundation has invested more than $100 million (£63.2m) in reporting technologies and techniques since 2007.

The award was presented on Saturday 14 April by Lowell Bergman, the former 60 Minutes investigative reporter who founded the University of California at Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Programme, Newton says on the Knight blog as he announces his win:

Knight Foundation has invested some $20 million in investigative reporting projects. They range from establishing an endowed chair, supporting  professional and training organizations, establishment of university-based investigative reporting projects, funding for specific investigations and direct support for independent nonprofit investigative  reporting newsrooms.

Knight’s most recent investigative reporting grant was announced last week – $800,000 to the Center for Investigative Reporting to work with the Investigative News Network to launch an investigative reporting channel on YouTube.

The Markoff Award is named after New York Times journalist John Markoff.

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Investigative journalism news site ExaroNews launches

A new investigative journalism site is today marking the launch of its “field trial”, during which time it will test the platform and carry a selection of articles “to give people an idea of what is coming”.

ExaroNews aims to “hold power to account” and will launch as a fully-fledged, paywalled investigative news site “in a few weeks”, with a focus on appealing to readers in the business community, Mark Watts, the site’s editor told

The new organisation plans to encourage WikiLeaks-style whistleblowing, hoping those with a potential story will contact the Fleet Street-based editorial team or leave the documents in an anonymous drop box, which will launch at a later date, Watts explained.

The server is physically located outside of the jurisdiction which means it makes it much safer in terms of attempts to find out who has passed information on.

As well as hoping to have leaked documents to investigate, the team of mainly freelance journalists will spend the majority of time “crawling public data for stories that are generally going missed”.

The journalists will be “investigating governments in the widest sense of that word, investigating public bodies and what they are up to” by analysing the “increasing volume of public data available”, Watts said.

Journalists working for a mainstream media title don’t really have the time to assess and make sense of that data.

The team of journalists

The growing team of journalists working for the organisation includes “people who have worked on both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, people who have worked in broadcasting and people from trade magazine backgrounds”, Watts told

One of those is former Westminster correspondent for the Guardian David Hencke, he said, plus there are “those who are much fresher out of journalism college, particularly those who have learned a bit about data journalism and a bit about how to make use of information that is put in the public domain by an array of public bodies”.

Watts himself ran the investigations unit at the now-defunct Sunday Business, and has worked on the Sunday Times and on TV programme World in Action.

Sample stories

One of the stories currently on the site is on negotiations between the new Libyan government and the UK, which, according to Watts, was later reported in the Sunday Times.

Former Guardian journalist David Hencke has a series of stories on the site “how auditors found crazy examples of misspending by all sorts of Whitehall departments and all this was gathered from audit reports that were in the public domain but had not been picked up on”, Watts said.

Subscription costs

Paywall prices have not yet been set and readers will be able to access the site by paying for a subscription or can opt to micro-buy articles, Watts explained.

The site is particularly, but not exclusively, aimed at a business and City audience,  simply because we think that that’s probably where the paying audience will be, as distinct from the general consumer, which has got used to the idea of having content for free.

Once the paywall is launched readers will see a homepage with introductions to articles and will be then prompted to micro-buy or subscribe.

Investigative journalism does cost money and although people are getting used to the idea of getting news content for nothing, of course what they are often getting for free is just regurgitated, rehashed, or, to use that phrase, churned material which its no wonder is free as really it is pretty valueless.

ExaroNews is holding a launch party this evening (1 November).

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#Tip of the day from – getting documentaries on television

In a post on the BBC College of Journalism website documentary maker Eamonn Matthews lists a series of “rules” which journalists should be aware of when trying to get investigative documentaries on television, involving issues such as narrative, actuality and characters. In the post, which is an edited version of a chapter from the book Investigative Journalism: Dead or Alive?, published by Abramis, Matthews argues that journalists are more likely to get ideas accepted when they they have a better understanding of the “language of television, its demands and its power”.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Currybet: There is a lot of data journalism to be done on riots

August 12th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Editors' pick

In a blog post today (12 August), information architect at the Guardian, Martin Belam, calls on journalists to make the most of the data now available in relation to the riots which took place this week.

He says using the data is “vital” and the resulting journalism will have the power to “help us untangle the truth from those prejudiced assumptions”. But he adds about the importance of ensuring the data is not misinterpreted in time to come.

The impact of the riots is going to be felt in data-driven stories for months and years to come. I’ve no doubt that experienced data crunchers like Simon Rogers or Conrad Quilty-Harper will factor it into their work, but I anticipate that in six months time we’ll be seeing stories about a sudden percentage rise in crime in Enfield or Central Manchester, without specific reference to the riots. The journalists writing them won’t have isolated the events of the last few days as exceptions to the general trend.

… There can be genuine social consequences to the misinterpretation of data. If the postcodes in Enfield become marked as a place where crime is now more likely as a result of one night of violence, then house prices could be depressed and insurance costs will rise, meaning the effects of the riots will still be felt long after broken windows are replaced. It is the responsibility of the media to use this data in a way that helps us understand the riots, not in a way that prolongs their negative impact.

Read his full post here…

This followed a blog post by digital strategist Kevin Anderson back on Sunday, when he discussed how the circumstances provide an opportunity for data journalists to work with social scientists and use data to test speculated theories, with reference to the data journalism which took place after the 1967 riots in Detroit.

… I’m sure that we’ll see hours of speculation on television and acres of newsprint positing theories. However, theories need to be tested. The Detroit riots showed that a partnership amongst social scientists, foundations, the local community and journalists can prove or disprove these theories and hopefully provide solutions rather than recriminations.

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