Investigative Journalism today

The first thought

All the President’s Men, Karl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s masterpiece, may be the first case which comes up in our minds when we talk about Investigative Journalism.
Two Washington Post reporters discovered proofs, witnesses, and the intricate logic behind the 1972 Watergate break-in.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
The meetings with whistleblowers in isolated garages, wearing a raincoat and smoking cigarettes, have filled our imagination.
Secret sources and anonymity appear fundamentals for this career.

But is all this still possible in the high technological era we live in?
Computers, tablets, and smartphones occupy the major part of our days. Every app requires our agreement to locate the device where it has been downloaded. Even the most innocent website trace our visits.
Secrets seem to have very short lives and deeper researches are difficult to be hidden from the Big Brother’s eye of the Intelligence.

And yet investigative journalists still exist and they are even more necessary than in the past.

Increasingly more watched – recent facts

Russia- Europe

On the 14th November the Presidential Library in Russia launched the project for anational Encyclopaedia. The new online resource aims to substitute Wikipedia, which, as an analysis showed, doesn’t provide reliable information about the country.
Critics and people against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, saw their websites blocked in March. Moreover, the bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers were forced in August to register with the mass media regulator.
The Presidential Library plan seems a further move for controlling the web.

The country was again at the centre of the media on the 20th of November, when articles were published about the surveillance of English people through webcams. The UK planned the closure of a Russian website that streamed footages from British cameras.

 USA- World

Citizenfour, the documentary film by Laura Poitras, has been released in October. The movie concerns Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency spying activity, which became public last year. Snowden is currently in Russia, with a three-years residency permit. The director Poitras, instead, is in Berlin.


Investigative, whenever referred to Journalism, means: “inquiring intensively into and seeking to expose malpractice, the miscarriage of justice, or other controversial issues”, according to the Oxford Dictionary online.

The Logan Symposium - An opportunity to talk about it

Building an Alliance against Secrecy, Surveillance and Censorship.
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
This is the title of the Logan Symposium which was held at the Barbican Centre (London) on the 5-6-7 of December.

The event was organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism – a charity which support the education and the training of media people towards deep researches – and funded by The Reva and David Logan Foundation– that promote social justice through many sectors such as arts, reporting, and development communities.

Conferences, lectures, and workshops aimed to highlight and try to solve some of the problems that a journalist in this field has to face.

Transparency reports, Thunderbird, email encryption are just some of the elements not-to-forget to live more peacefully. There are many tricks to learn to not be traced, many precautions to take to assure top secrecy to the sources.

Laura Poitras – Citizenfour’s director – and Sarah Harrison – WikiLeaks journalist who took part of the operation for moving Snowden to Moscow – participated via video chat, because suggested not to enter UK. In the country, indeed, Terrorism Act 2000, schedule 7, prevents them from moving.

Even Julian Assange have reached the audience via video chat.

John Pilger
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
What they testified was their moral obligation to let the information out.
“Journalism is a craft, regardless of the means, regardless of the obstacles”, said John Pilger, during the session What We Do Not See in the first day afternoon.

To discover the truth and make the public aware – for what regards matters of public interest – should be the priority for a journalist, even if the technological advance and terrorist attacks made it more and more difficult.
Experiences from the others and from the past may help in the initial learning process.