By: Cwenga Maqhubela
Often when people hear of the word journalism the first thing that jumps into their minds is ‘oh! so you like peoples news’. Actually, that is not the case and we get different kinds of journalism that people give interest to and they all have their different ways of informing people. Investigative journalism is one of the most important kinds of journalism because of its purpose and distinctive qualities from other kinds of journalism.
In a world of corruption and censorship where things are running under carpet with the intentions of illegally gaining something for your own benefit, it is high likely that one will get away easily without telling the truth. Investigative journalism is here to change all of that with the aim of uncovering and telling us about serious matters that are of concern to us. Imagine how much more could have the Guptas benefited if the Guptas and Associates scores R5.3 BN in Locomotives kickbacks had not been reported about. We should also keep in mind that even those who intend to hide the truth from the public are also capable of misinformation that may deceive the public. It is in this manner that I emphasize the extreme importance about Investigative journalism
Mark Lee Hunter, the author of Story- Based Inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists describes investigative journalism as, “Investigative journalism involves exposing to the public matters that are concealed – either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding.” As opposed to just any other kinds of journalism this specific field requires the journalist to be extra attentive to every detail they get. When I am writing a simple sport story it is always expected that all my sources are revealed as they are but in this field things differ at times. You may find an investigative report that has sources that are revealed and sometimes sources may be creditable and anonymous due to certain reasons and circumstances. Jane Duncan tells about how investigative journalists often put their lives at risk when conducting these reports and warns that investigative journalism is not for the fainthearted.
Read more on: Jane Duncan’s, The Staff of investigative journalism
In a country like South Africa that is often the centre of corruption scandals and many other events that require investigative journalism skills, it is important that we have more of these journalists. With traditional journalism slowly dipping due to social journalism, we see more of our journalists leaning on writing reports or stories that are user generated rather than going out there and finding the actual merits of the story and getting the right people to give them the right answers. Luckily there is a remedy to all of this, individuals who aspire to be investigative journalists need to be identified from as early has their high school grades by implementing programmes in schools that exposes them to the field. By doing so that will enhance their knowledge from a young age so that when they need to do it in practical at a later stage either in tertiary or work place they are familiar with what is required of them. One thing that is important about investigative journalism is that it has to have specialists. It is not a bad idea for one to be a versatile writer or reporter but since given how demanding it is to put together an investigative I strongly recommend that if you have interest in this field you then have to specialize on it.
I have been exposed to the to the characteristics of investigative journalism and have the qualities to be a specialist, but I prefer to stay on my beat and do what I believe I can do best. Lee Hunter urges that, “whether your story appears in a big medium or a small one, make sure it is noticed by the people for whom it is important. If you achieve no other result, you will allow them to feel that someone cared about theirs story.”