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Investigative journalism was described in many ways throughout the afternoon: as â€œuncovering the hiddenâ€; â€œexpensiveâ€; â€œdifficultâ€; â€œrequiring dedicationâ€; â€œhas impactâ€; â€œholding power to accountâ€. These terms are important: Iâ€™ve blogged elsewhere about journalismâ€™s professional ideology and how it compares to bloggersâ€™, and investigative journalism has its own professional ideology within that. If we are going to ask â€œBut is it investigative journalism?â€ then these will be particularly relevant.
For example, there was a focus on investigative journalism as process that particularly fascinated me: Donal Macintyre talked about the â€˜undercover reporterâ€™ as a â€œnarrative deviceâ€ to allow them to create a narrative around important but difficult-to-dramatize issues, rather than something inherent in investigative work itself. In other words, for his purposes the process of â€˜going undercoverâ€™ had a storytelling function as much as â€“ if not more than â€“ an investigative one.
On the other hand, some members of the audience dismissed modern examples of investigative work because it did not fit into this mythology.
A comparison of the Wikileaks, MPsâ€™ expenses and Watergate stories is useful to flesh this out: in looking at those three where is the cut-off point that makes this one â€˜investigativeâ€™, and another not? More to the point, why do we care?