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Investigative Reporting

Book Description

This important book defines what investigative reporting is and what qualities it requires. Drawing on the experience of many well-known journalists in the field, the author identifies the skills, common factors and special circumstances involved in a wide variety of investigations. It examines how opportunities for investigations can be found and pursued, how informants can be persuaded to yield needed information and how and where this information can be checked. It also stresses the dangers and legal constraints that have to be contended with and shows real life examples such as the Cook Report formula, the Jonathan Aitken investigation and the Birmingham Six story.

David Spark, himself a freelance writer of wide experience, examines how opportunities for investigations can be found and pursued, how informants can be persuaded to yield needed information and how and where this information can be checked. He also stresses the dangers and legal constraints that have to be contended with and shows investigators at work in two classic inquiries:
· The mysterious weekend spent in Paris by Jonathan Aitken, then Minister of Defence Procurement
· The career of masterspy Kim Philby

Investigative Reporting looks at such fields for inquiry as company frauds (including those of Robert Maxwell), consumer complaints, crime, police malpractice, the intelligence services, local government and corruption in Parliament and in overseas and international bodies.

The author believes that the conclusions that emerge from this far-reaching survey are of value not only in investigative journalism, but to practitioners in all branches of reporting.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Halftitle
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Illustration
  7. Preface
  8. 1. What is investigative reporting?
    1. Establishing the Facts
    2. News: The Hidden Areas
    3. General, Specialist and Investigative Reporting
    4. Fighting Readers’ Battles
    5. What an Investigative Report Needs
  9. 2. The making of an investigative reporter
    1. The Qualities Required
    2. The Path to Investigation
    3. Back-up from the Management
    4. Specialists and Investigative Reporting
    5. The Freelance Investigator
  10. 3. Insight and the development of techniques
    1. The Insight Method
    2. Shaking Up the Quality Press
    3. Helping People
    4. Getting it Right Rather than Simply on the Front Page
    5. The Switch to Broadcasting
    6. Into the 1990s
  11. 4. Finding the stories
    1. Contacts and Tip-offs
    2. A Story to Tell
    3. Windows on Hidden Places
    4. Between the Lines
    5. A Name Remembered
    6. Does it Make Sense?
    7. A Link with the Past
    8. One Thing Leads to Another
  12. 5. Pursuing inquiries: Doing it right
    1. The Aim: To Decide the Issue
    2. A Possible Subject: Heroin in the City
    3. Doing it Right
    4. Bringing in the Lawyers
    5. Notebooks and Tape-Recordings
    6. Discovery of Documents
    7. The Protection of Privilege
    8. Injunctions
    9. In the Public Interest
  13. 6. Pursuing inquiries: Getting it right
    1. Is There a Story There?
    2. Standing up a Story
    3. Facts from the Public Domain
  14. 7. Finding the people
    1. Talk to Everyone Relevant
    2. Find Some Experts
    3. Access by Internet
    4. Whistleblowers and Axe-Grinders
    5. Go and Have a Look
    6. What’s the History?
  15. 8. Dealing with documents
    1. Fakes and Hoaxes
    2. Checking for Authenticity
    3. How Peter Watson Made his Checks
    4. Responses and Spoiling Tactics
    5. Rebuttals that don’t Rebut
  16. 9. Getting people to talk
    1. You need to be Nice, have an Introduction, or a Favour to Offer, and be a Good Talker
    2. Don’t be Sharp and Smarmy
    3. The Nine Rs of Interviewing
    4. Reaction and Denial
    5. Information through Confrontation
    6. Going under Cover
    7. A Smuggler Unmasked
    8. Under Cover in the Midlands
  17. 10. Writing it: Problems and pitfalls
    1. Analysis of a Court Case
    2. Select Facts Fairly: Let them Speak for Themselves
    3. Don’t Beat about the Bush
    4. The Case for Beginning at the Beginning
    5. Libel: What can Happen
    6. The Set-up that Backfired
    7. Contract and Confidentiality
    8. Journalists’ Sources
    9. Privacy and Media Codes
    10. Investigation and its Consequences
    11. The 11-Plus Failure Who Got a First
  18. 11. Two classic investigations
    1. Jonathan of Arabia
    2. Confrontation by Correspondence
    3. Finding the History
    4. Trawling for Information
    5. The Right Balance
    6. ‘The Cancer of Bent Journalism’
    7. Searching the Records
    8. Kim Philby, Masterspy
    9. The Trail from Cambridge
    10. Clash with the Government
    11. The American Angle
    12. The Albanian Disaster
  19. 12. Looking into companies
    1. The Freelance Director-General
    2. What is on Public Record?
    3. The Directors’ Report and Accounts
    4. How an Exceptional Item Became an Intangible Asset
    5. Where to Find Reports and Accounts
    6. Filed at the Stock Exchange
    7. Prospectuses
    8. Go and See
    9. Other Business Organizations
    10. The Polly Peck Affair
    11. Companies and the Government
    12. The Sale that Never took Place
    13. Not on Public Record
    14. Corrupt Contracting
    15. Investigating Success
    16. Does This Tip have an Iceberg?
  20. 13. The Maxwell investigations
    1. Maxwell and the Sunday Times
    2. Maxwell and Panorama
    3. Maxwell Versus Bower
  21. 14. Social and consumer affairs
    1. Poverty in Leeds
    2. Consumer Complaints: Watchdog
    3. Are you Paying too Much?
    4. Inquiring into the Health Service: Child Casualties in Bristol
    5. Builders they Wished they’d never had
    6. New Houses
    7. Can Chimneys Stand the Heat?
    8. Who to Consult?
  22. 15. Crime
    1. Take Care!
    2. The Solution of a Murder
    3. Dealing with the Underworld
    4. Relations With The Police
    5. The $40 Million Fraudster
    6. Entrapment
    7. Wayne’s World
    8. Burglary
    9. Male Rape
    10. It Could be You
  23. 16. Trail of the bent coppers
    1. The Iranian Scotch
    2. Malpractice in Police Forces
    3. Sexism in the Force
    4. Miscarriages of Justice
    5. The Libel Weapon
    6. Corruption in the Met
    7. The Top Cop and the Crook
    8. The Bridgewater Four
    9. The Birmingham Six
    10. ‘The Chief Must Go’
  24. 17. Security and intelligence
    1. The New Anti-Terrorist Face of MI5
    2. The Bad Old Days
    3. Bettaney and Reform
    4. Oversight of the Services
    5. MI6
  25. 18. Investigating local government
    1. Clues that Spell Corruption
    2. Monitoring the Councils
    3. Contacts and Information
    4. Keeping a Source Secret
    5. The Kirkby Ski Slope Affair
    6. Scandal at the Town Hall
    7. Power that Corrupts
  26. 19. Sleaze
    1. The Cash-For-Questions Tangle
    2. How the Editor of the Guardian Met Al Fayed
    3. The Sunday Times Joins In
    4. Promise of Proof
    5. Hamilton and Greer Sue for Libel
    6. The Aftermath
    7. Cash for Access
  27. 20. Cruelty and corruption abroad
    1. Why Abroad needs Investigation
    2. Death in Matabeleland
    3. Using Contacts
    4. Secret Prison Camps
    5. Hospital Horrors
    6. Commission and Corruption
    7. International Bodies
    8. Eurofraud
  28. Appendix A. Books for further reading
  29. Appendix B. People who helped with this book
  30. Appendix C. Council information open to public view
  31. Appendix D. Press Complaints Commission – Code of Practice
  32. Index