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Investigative Journalism & Foreign Aid: A Huge Return on Investment

It’s not unusual for investigative reporting to lead to huge fines. Exposés of foreign bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion have led to billions of dollars recovered by governments worldwide. What is shocking about these numbers is how they compare to the paucity of foreign aid to investigative journalists where it is most needed — in developing and transitioning countries.

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An Investigative Journalist Leaps From Print to Digital

Oscar Castilla spent 12 years at El Comercio, Peru’s most important daily newspaper, honing his reporting skills with investigations of organized crime and corruption. Then in 2014, Castilla and some colleagues from the investigative unit decided to leave the paper for editorial reasons. “The editor at the time had one view of journalism and we had another,” he told me in an interview. “We wanted to do some innovative things and the organization was against it.” So they decided to launch their own news publication online, Ojo Público (Public Eye).

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Help GIJN Support Global Investigative Reporting

Journalism is under threat. Investigative reporting, in particular, is under attack as never before, and we need your help. For 15 years, the Global Investigative Journalism Network has trained and supported the world’s most determined reporters as they’ve dug into corruption and abuses of power. We’ve helped bring watchdog reporting to the far corners of the Earth, and today investigative journalists are in more countries doing tougher reporting than we ever imagined.

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A Global Assault on Nonprofits

In an era of increasing hostility to independent media, one of the bright spots is the rapid expansion of journalism nonprofits around the world — training, promoting, and reporting on stories that otherwise would never see the light of day. But a dangerous trend now threatens the progress our colleagues have made on press freedom and watchdog reporting: a crackdown on nonprofit organizations. Restrictions on international funding account for more than a third of the measures since 2012. With that in mind, we are pleased to reprint this important story from the Journal of Democracy, detailing the global scope of the backlash.

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The Pentagon, Propaganda, and Independent Media

Gone are the days of complaints about information operations and psychological operations (PSYOPS) undermining media development being pursued by USAID and its contractors. But those have been replaced by broader concerns that the U.S government overall may now be too focused on counter-messaging at the expense of independent media development. “We are concerned that there is an increasing shift away from supporting genuinely independent media towards what might be termed counter-propaganda and promoting counter narratives,” says James Deane, director of policy and learning at BBC Media Action.

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Investigative Journalists Form Alliance in Latin America

Cross-border cooperation was the big takeaway from a three-day meeting of investigative journalists from 17 countries in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 4-6. Billed as “The First Caribbean Meeting of Investigative Journalists: Tracking the Stories that Connect Us,” one aim was to create a counterweight to the power of organized crime by cooperating across borders, according to Carla Minet of the Center of Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico.