From the Experts: Tips and Tools for Investigations

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At GIJN we’re building up a digital library of tips, tools and other resources for journalists worldwide who want to dig deeper and ask tougher questions. Our Resource Center contains a trove of tipsheets covering everything from unravelling financial records to plane spotting and wildlife smuggling.

The videos and presentations on our YouTube channel, already more than 250 strong, are growing, too, and we’re pleased this week to add a new series on investigative tips and tools. This compact set of crash seminars features leading experts with insights on what investigative journalism is, as well as how to follow public records, investigate with data, understand financial records, the best online search strategies — and more.

We know you’re busy, so we’ve designed each video to be is less than eight minutes long, with shorter segments available on GIJN’s social media channels.

To start this series, GIJN’s executive director, David Kaplan, explains how investigative reporters define their craft. Let us know what you think – and what else you’d like to see covered.

1. Defining Investigative Journalism

What exactly is investigative journalism? Although definitions vary, professional journalists are in broad agreement about investigative reporting’s main features, from systematic research to the use of public records and data. They point to a set of methods and techniques that can take years to master.

2. Investigating with Data

While it’s impossible to interview millions of people for a story, you can interrogate millions of records to find leads from data – sometimes in just seconds. But although data is increasingly essential to investigative journalists, it needs to be accompanied by in-depth reporting to verify and complement one’s findings.

Giannina Segnini is an investigative journalist with more than 25 years of experience and the director of the Master of Science in Data Journalism at Columbia University in New York.

For more information on data journalism, see GIJN’s Resource Center.

3. Fact-checking and Bulletproofing Your Story

Fact-checking is critical to ensure that all details of a story are true and that no one is named unjustifiably, and to establish trust in the journalist

Nils Hanson is Editor-in-Chief for the Swedish TV-program Mission Investigate, a weekly one-hour investigative journalism program. Hanson explains how to “bulletproof” one’s story through fact-checking and talking to the subject of an investigation as early as possible.

For more information on fact checking, see GIJN’s Resource Center.

Coming next week: Margot Williams on Online Searches and Key Databases. Williams is a research librarian and journalist who has worked at The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio in the US, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism and The Intercept.

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