What Is an Investigative Journalist?

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An investigative journalist attempts to arrive at their own conclusions about the truth of a story, and they do so in a way that mimics academic research. Find out why investigative journalists can take a longer time in developing stories with help from a journalism professor in this free video on careers in journalism.

Part of the Video Series: Careers in Journalism
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Video Transcript

So what is an investigative journalist? Well perhaps the place to start is to understand what a typical journalist is. Most of the time what journalism is is it is a matter of gathering information from competing sources, sources who have competing views of what is real or what is true and then sort of presenting all those different views in an article or in a newscast and letting member of the audience decide for themselves what the truth is. Investigative journalists don't do that. Investigative journalists attempt to arrive at their own conclusions about what the truth is and in that sense they are actually more akin to say academic researchers or police detectives people who gather raw evidence and bring their own methods and their own interpretations to that evidence so this is what investigative journalists do and it is a very valuable service because they're actually kind of helping the audience sort through the facts and arrive at some sort of sustainable verifiable conclusion using transparent methods that people are free to evaluate on their own. So that is what investigative journalists do and now if you are interested in being an investigative journalist there are some perks here in that investigative journalists usually have a lot of latitude in the newsroom, they can take much longer to develop stories, they usually are given a few more resources than typical reporters but this is something you are going to have to work your way into. It takes a lot of trust from your editor to sense from your editor that you are worthy of the kind of investment that a newspaper has or a media outlet has to make in order to have somebody do investigative journalism.

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