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Investigative Reporting Is The Driving Force In Journalism

2728 words - 11 pages

Investigative reporting has been a driving force in journalism for centuries. The reporting tradition of revealing misconduct was already well established much before the 20th Century. Its practise even predates the publication of the first successful colonial newspaper in 1704, demonstrating the press’ watchdog role has had deep historical roots in democracy much prior to the 1960s. Over the past three centuries, investigative reporters have tried to make a difference by raising public consciousness about perceived wrongdoings. Prior to the early 1960s, investigative reporting was highly localised and sporadic. This was a reflection of the character of early journalism and the technological limits of communication. It was not until the 20th century that a unique combination of forces combined to create a sustained era of national exposures. (Reference)
By the 1960s, investigative journalism started to prosper more than ever before. The media industry had started to become a more acknowledged industry, with not only the elites of society making use of print, radio and TV journalism but also everyday civilians. Reporters also saw a change in their roles as journalists. Reporters saw the press’s responsibilities to include being “an investigator, a watchdog on government, an interpreter of the news, and an educator to the masses” (Aucoin, 2005). A new ‘golden age’ of journalism during the 1960s to 1970s had begun. Investigative journalism began to thrive for a number of reasons. In the 1960s, British newspapers faced competition from television and radio, so newspapers became bigger, and filled the space with big features and picture reporting. At the same time there was a climate of scepticism and irreverence that made investigative journalism attractive. These factors can account for its eruption. In the early 1960s, there was two major investigations that have continued to be cited as exemplars; the first was of the triangular relationship between a government minister, Profumo, a Russian secret agent and a call girl. It was extensively researched by News of the World investigative journalist Peter Earle. The second was an exclusive by Sunday Times Insight, whose reporter Ron Hall detailed the methods used by a criminal landlord, Peter Rachman, to terrorise tenants. These examples set a trend and by the late 1960s there were many new vehicles for investigative reporting in the national media.
One of the most notable reporters of the time was Ron Hall, who has been considered to have virtually invented the art of investigative journalism in Britain, as one of a trio of young reporters in the 1960s, he created the insight team of the Sunday Times. Shortly after he joined the paper, the scandal of the Profumo affair broke so he began to produce a weekly detailed account of what had happened, digging deeper into the background story. Shortly after that, the first truly investigative article written by Hall was an account of the life and misdeeds of...

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