Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.

How to use

Welcome to the Investigative Journalism Manuals!

You may be using these investigative journalism chapters in one of three formats: as PDF files you are reading on the Web, or from a CD, or as printouts of those files. If you have printouts, you’ll be able to make notes on the pages as you work through the text; if not, we recommend you keep a notebook and pen beside you as you read, so that you can record your own ideas and questions as you progress.

What do the chapters cover?

These first chapters form the core of what is planned as a growing guide to investigative journalism over the next two years. To begin, we have assembled the basics: definitions of the field and some key techniques and resources. We will add to these over time a series of supplements dealing with investigative work in particular fields – such as politics or health – or particular countries, or types of institution. All will be available free to read and work from on the internet.

The first eight chapters presented here are designed to answer the FAQs everybody has about investigative reporting, as follows:

Chapter 1: About Investigative reporting
What is investigative journalism and why is it worth doing?

Chapter 2: Generating story ideas
How do I find topics worth investigating?

Chapter 3: Planning the investigation
How do I set about doing an investigation?

Chapter 4: Sources and spindoctors
How do I deal with people who offer me tip-offs?

Chapter 5: Forensic interviewing
How do I get my questions answered properly?

Chapter 6: Basic research tools
How do I find and make sense of hard data?

Chapter 7: Telling the story
How do I present my findings to my audience?

Chapter 8: Ethics and general legal principles
What values should I stick to as an investigative reporter?

If you have a solid background of journalism education and/or experience, and just want to know more about one of these topics, you can go straight to the relevant chapter and use it as a self-contained guide. But if you are new to practical journalism or investigation, we recommend that you work through all the chapters in order. They build on one another, and, along the way, they will broaden your knowledge of reporting in general as well as of specialised investigative techniques.

If you are using the chapters as part of a journalism education programme, your lecturer or supervisor will guide you on which sections to read, and may set alternative exercises that relate specifically to your reporting context.

But you can also use them for self-study, and these notes provide you with guidance on that.

How is each chapter organised?

Each chapter has the same format. At the beginning, we spell out the learning objectives for the chapter: the things you will be able to do or understand better after you have worked through it. Then you will find information and exercises, designed to add to your knowledge and get you thinking about the debates. Exercises will indicate how long you should spend on them, and any questions in them will be answered as the chapter progresses. We recommend that you do take time to attempt these exercises, and write down your responses, using the timeframe indicated. They are designed to give you a pathway into the issues the chapter focuses on.

A case study will show you how an African journalist in recent times has tackled a relevant story, and the journalist will explain how he or she approached the task and dealt with the problems, and what lessons were learned. Then, depending on the subject matter, there may be additional tips and hints, some of them country-specific. A summary at the end of the chapter will help you revise what you have read, and there are references to particularly useful extra readings. All the readings, plus more, are consolidated into the longer reading list that forms the end of Chapter 4.

Download ‘How to use’ as PDF