Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

Volume 17, Issue 1

New investigative journalism strategies
MIJT 2010
May, 2011

A supporter cheers from the roof of Bir Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, watching a 200,000-strong crowd at a Maoist victory rally in June 2006. Image: Narendra Shrestha

PJR 17(1) cover

May, 2011

ISSN: 1023-9499

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In this issue…

Two leading investigative journalists who are also media educators have called on university journalism schools to pool their top student resources to undertake investigative journalism projects.

They have also appealed to journalism schools to work collaboratively across institutions and borders to target major investigations.

They present their case – including a proposal to set up a so-called UniMuckraker project for the Australia-NZ-Pacific region – in the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review being published next week.

Australian Bill Birnbauer of Monash University, who is a member of the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, proposed the UniMuckraker strategy for collaboration with a joint multimedia website in an article examining non-profit foundations and their support for investigative journalism in the US.

He says “absence of corporate interference, government control, daily deadline pressures, or the need to attract advertising” puts universities in a strong position to produce quality investigative journalism.

He provides a case study of a multimedia website set up at his university to investigate the “toxic legacy” of the Environmental Protection Agency in Victoria.

Professor Wendy Bacon of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism provides a series of case studies on collaborative environmental investigative journalism involving eight universities from Australia to Denmark.

One of the keynote speakers at NZ’s inaugural Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology (MIJT) conference hosted at AUT University by the Pacific Media Centre last December, Bacon says this was a “sign that universities in the Pacific region are growing as sites for innovation, discussion and production of investigative reporting as journalists and the public struggle to respond to a decline in old business models of journalism”.

The Australian investigators views were echoed by NZ investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who told the conference that investigative journalism needed to be “detached from the news media” to ensure its survival.

Editor David Robie said this edition, co-edited by Dr Rosser Johnson of AUT's Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, celebrated some of the best investigative journalism in New Zealand and focused on strategies to strengthen probing reporting of the future.

James Hollings of Massey University has an article drawn from his recent research on four major case studies of NZ investigative journalism and presents a best practice model for working with reluctant and vulnerable whistleblowers.

Another keynote speaker, Nepali Times editor-in-chief Kunda Dixit, said in his article: “Dumbing down content undermines democracy. That is why we need to unleash the full power of investigative journalism.”

A selection of photographs from his Frames of War exhibition are featured in this edition of PJR.

Among other wide-ranging articles are an investigation into the Ngatihine forestry controversy in the 1970s by photojournalist John Miller.

Fulltext of all PJR articles available on the INFORMIT subscription database

Editorial

1. Editorial: Reinventing muckraking
David Robie