Speaking at the opening of the conference in Amsterdam, he gave a pessimistic assessment of the future of investigative journalism in the UK and Europe by describing its list of 'enemies'. As newspaper readership continues to fall and advertising revenue falters, he says newspaper editors are cutting costs and investigative units are often the first to suffer.
Mr Leigh, Guardian Assistant Editor with responsibility for investigations, said newspapers are increasingly turning to 'lifestyle' content and human interest to fill new tabloid formats. "But the more there is of that, the less room there is for what some people don't want published," he told more than 400 journalists from around 50 countries.
Investigations are being marginalised in newspapers, he claimed, and concerns about profitability are limiting the potential of publishing these projects online.
His most stinging criticism was directed at newspapers that publish what he called 'pseudo investigations' on issues such as conspiracies surrounding the death of Diana. He said these 'pseudo investigations’ were getting more common and 'degraded the concept of journalism'.
Other enemies of investigative journalism include the law of libel in the UK, the Government and powerful corporations. He said investigative journalists in the UK are suffering from a lack of resources, hostility and sometimes danger. He said that too often there was a very thin line between success and a crippling lawsuit.
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