Investigative journalism is one of the toughest areas of the news industry. Although it is indispensable for democracy, it is a risky job that comes with threats of violence, online and offline.
Reporting an investigative story also takes a lot of time and a deep understanding of the topic, which makes it difficult for budding reporters to get started. Plus the lack of diversity in newsrooms often means that investigations by reporters from under-represented backgrounds get overlooked.
In her article for the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), Emily O’Sullivan is sharing some useful tips for investigative journalists just starting out. She covers questions like how to break into the industry and the challenges around building a career in the sector marked by censorship, intimidation, harassment and bullying.
"There is no single 'correct’ way to make your mark as a young investigative journalist," she writes, asking six young investigative journalists to share their experience and best tips to get started.
"Be resilient. Investigative reports are tough. There will be roadblocks; sources will go cold, your contact will suddenly stop picking up your calls, the government will not respond to your requests on time, and one million other things will frustrate you," says Banjo Damilola, a female journalist from Nigeria, quoted in the article.
Pitching an investigative story is also tough and requires a lot of persistence. Here is another good tip from an Amnesty Media Award-nominated UK reporter Manisha Ganguly:
"Rejection is such a huge part of the job, and knowing how to turn a "no" into a "yes" – whether it’s a source you want to get on the record or a commission for your documentary – is very important. And persistence is key to navigating rejection – so don’t give up! Try harder and think creatively. Imagination is an underrated but indispensable part of investigative journalism."
Are you looking for new ways to generate story ideas? Join this one-on-one workshop with established journalist Ellie Levenson.