Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Investigative Reporting

What is Investigative Reporting

  • Establishing the facts
  • The hidden areas
  • General, specialist and investigative reporting
  • Fighting readers’ battles

The Making of an Investigative Reporter

  • The qualities required
  • The path to investigation
  • Back-up from the management
  • Specialists and investigative reporting
  • The freelance investigator

Insight and the Development of Techniques

  • The insight method
  • Shaking up the quality press
  • Helping people
  • Getting it right
  • The switch to broadcasting

Finding the Stories

  • Contacts and tip-offs
  • A story to tell
  • Windows on hidden places
  • Between the lines
  • A name remembered
  • Does it make sense?
  • A link with the past
  • One thing leads to another

Pursuing Inquiries: Doing it Right

  • The aim
  • Doing it right
  • Bringing in the lawyers
  • Notebooks and tape recordings
  • Discovery of documents
  • The protection of privilege
  • Injunctions
  • In the public interest

Pursuing Inquiries: Getting it Right

  • Is there a story?
  • Standing up a story
  • Facts from the public domain

Finding the People

  • Talking to everyone relevant
  • Find some experts
  • Access by internet
  • Whistleblowers and axe grinders
  • Have a look
  • The history

Dealing With Documents

  • Fakes and hoaxes
  • Checking for authenticity
  • Responses and spoiling tactics
  • Rebuttals that don’t rebut

Getting People to Talk

  • Be a good talker
  • Don’t be sharp
  • The nine Rs of interviewing
  • Reaction and denial
  • Information through confrontation
  • Going under cover

Writing It: Problems and Pitfalls

  • Analysis of a court case
  • Select facts fairly
  • Libel
  • Contract and confidentiality
  • Journalists’ sources
  • Privacy and media codes
  • Investigation and its consequences

Looking Into Companies

  • The freelance director-general
  • Public record
  • Report and accounts
  • Business organisations
  • Companies and the government
  • Corrupt contracting
  • Investigating success


  • Dealing with the underworld
  • Relations with the police
  • Entrapment
  • Burglary

Investigating Local Government

  • Clues that indicate corruption
  • Monitoring the councils
  • Contacts and information
  • Keeping a source secret
  • Power that corrupts
  • Sleaze

Example Candidate Response Booklet

Example Candidate Response (ECR) Booklets are a source of crucial information for Centres and Candidates as they use real candidate responses. We ask Senior Examiners to comment on five or more responses in terms of why the mark was awarded with commentary about how to improve the answer (if necessary).

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

Investigative Reporting: A Study in Technique, David Spark, Focal Press, Oxford (1999)

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading: