Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Investigative Reporting

Main Topics of Study

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

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

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

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading: