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Credit: By Julo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What are the different steps behind an investigation and what happens when journalists run into a dead end? A new weekly podcast called The Tip Off aims to explain that, telling the stories behind the biggest headlines in British journalism.

Each episode of The Tip Off, which launched on 15 June, will focus on a different story, speaking to investigative journalists who will explain the twists and turns, dead ends and tip-offs that landed them their biggest scoops.

Maeve McClenaghan, who hosts the podcast as a separate project from her work at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, said the show gives listeners an insight into the complexities behind producing serious journalism in the public interest.

"In an era when the term ‘fake news’ is bandied about, it can be particularly frustrating for people that are doing serious journalism, spending months or years working on a story, meticulously putting the pieces together, to see fabricated stories getting more attention," she told

"There is a certain amount of distrust in the media, so this was an attempt to give people an insight into what goes into the work – people on the outside sometimes don't have a clue."

The first episodes of the podcast so far have looked at how BuzzFeed’s investigations editor Heidi Blake exposed the questionable financial practices of one of the Conservative Party’s largest donors, and the process behind the Washington Post Louisa Loveluck's piece on Syrian detention centres, which broke earlier this year.

"I thought there was a potential gap in the UK market for people to get behind the scenes of journalism and become part of those detective stories.

"There is going to be a range of topics covered in the series, and I am starting to talk to journalists who are in the process of working on stories now and getting them to collect bits of audio here and there, in case we cover that story in the future.

"It is not always the case that the biggest headlines have a really interesting backstory, so we are trying to find the balance with stories that are important and impactful in their own right, and that have all this work behind the scenes that could be told brilliantly in a podcast."

McClenaghan teased that the first series, which can be found on a variety of platforms including iTunes and Soundcloud, will include car chases, disguises, anonymous sources, leaked documents and more.

"I wanted to make sure there were a lot of female voices in the first series – research shows the majority of front page bylines are male, and investigative journalism is still seen as a masculine, rough-tough pursuit.

"The Tip Off will show a lot of incredibly talented, award-winning journalists that just happen to be women, writing about a whole range of subjects from corruption in football, to terrorism and suspected money-laundering."

  • Maeve McClenaghan, investigative journalist on the Bureau Local team, will be part of a panel on community and local journalism at newsrewired on 19 July. Find out more here.

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