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ARTICLE: Investigative reporters see themselves as messengers and reformers

Picture: Open door by Martin Wessely, CC0 1.0

Investigative journalists regard themselves as having autonomy and high job satisfaction, even though there is a lot of pessimism about the state of their work and the future. Gerry Lanosga of Indiana University Bloomington and Brant Houston of the University of Illinois studied how reporters assess their profession, the status of nonprofit newsrooms and how journalists see themselves in relation to public policymakers. The authors conducted a survey for 861 investigative reporters in the US.

Although newsroom resources for investigative reporting have been on the decrease, many respondents have a positive view of their situation. A majority says that resources for investigative work are at least holding steady, if not increasing. Nonprofit newsrooms have been on the rise in the US, and journalists working in nonprofits were especially satisfied with their jobs.

Even nonprofit investigative reporters do not, however, express very optimistic views about the future. Sizable proportions of respondents are somewhat pessimistic, and a third answered that staff devoted to investigative work has decreased in recent years.

Investigative journalists have differing views about their roles. Some see themselves more as providers of information and more passive in their role regarding policymakers. A larger proportion of respondents also see the need for “activist” work, seeking solutions to societal problems and mobilizing change, this including cooperation with the public or policymakers.

The article “Spotlight” was published in Journalism Practice and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: Open door by Martin Wessely, CC0 1.0

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