Characteristics of Investigative Journalists


Investigative journalism has developed into a prominent branch of journalism. It has certain glamour associated with it. But it is definitely risky. In this article, the author discusses the characeteristics of a successful investigative journalist.

Nowadays investigative journalism has become a distinct and prominent branch of journalism. An investigative journalist follows a lead, a particular storry and delves deep into it. He/She investigates various leads and unearths a scandal, irregularities and/or cases of corruption. In many cases, investigative journalism is risky affair. All over the world, there are many cases where investigative journalists have lost their lives while following different leads. However, investigative journalism provides a thrill which cannot be easily described. Many investigative journalists have become famous after successfully unearthing stories of corruption, irregularities and scandals. In this article, we are going to discuss various traits of a successful investigative journalist.

Investigative journalist must have a good sense of news and leads

An investigative journalist must have a very good sense of news. He/she must be able to distinguish and identify a special lead. If the journalist is unable to distinguish leads, he/she will not be able to be successful in this particular field.



Investigative journalist must be analytical and organized

The investigative journalist must be able to work in an organized manner. He/she must follow the lead systematically, interrogate his/her sources, conduct interview discretely and ultimately file the report methodically. An investigative journalist must have a sharp analytical mind to analyze the issues and segregate the important leads from unimportant information.

The journalist must be motivated by high journalistic ethics and morals

An investigative journalist must be very honest and upright. He must be motivated by moral values and high standards of journalism. He/she should not get distracted by various lucrative offers or bribes. His/her main aim should be to bring the corruption into light and make people aware of the problems/irregularities.

Investigative journalist must protect his/her sources

: The sources are very important for an investigative journalist. The sources give a journalist various leads. Needless to mention that this is a risky affair for both the journalist and the source. So, an investigative journalist must protect the source. He/she must not reveal the names of the sources under any circumstances. There should be a mutual trust between the source and the investigative journalist.



Investigative journalist must be patient and self-driven

An investigative journalist must be self-driven. Sometime it takes even more than a year to unearth the complete effect of corrupt practices or irregularities. He must be extremely patient and self-driven to continue the investigation till it reaches the desired/logical end.

Concluding comments

Although investigative journalism is associated with a certain glamour, the newcomers in this field must not forget the risk and problems associated with this field. They must obey the journalistic ethos while following the leads.They must be prepared to take reasonable risk to pursue leads. Most of the investigative journalists make conscious endeavour to follow the example set by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two investigative journalists who unearthed Watergate scandal during the early 1970s in Washington Post. The unearthing of infamous Watergate scandal caused American President Nixon to resign from the Presidentship of the USA in August, 1974.


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