A Short History of Investigative Journalism
Investigative journalism is an activity that can be as blundering as a child’s game of blind man’s buff. Yet the movies glamorise its (mostly male) heroes. Watergate began this trend, and the suffix “-gate” lives on today. Watergate has been much romanticised, but still conveys seven key journalistic lessons. Such truth-telling journalism conflicts with, but also cohabits with, sensationalism. We see this in the earlier investigative feats of WT Stead in the UK and Nellie Bly in the US. The fearless Harry Evans and Ray Fitzwalter, Seymour Hersh and Daniel Ellsberg, all revived the reputation of investigative journalism in the 1960s and 1970s, presaging the canonisation of Woodward and Bernstein, and today’s journalistic ideals of public service.
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