There is one question that is very frequently asked about investigative journalism. It is the question as to how one can go about building a career in this field. This question is typically posed by youngsters, who think that the work of an investigative journalist is interesting, and who therefore desire to know how one can go about building a career in investigative journalism. In today’s blog post, we will be taking a closer look at the specific steps that one needs to take while attempting to build a career in investigative journalism.
Firstly, it is necessary to appreciate that one needs a good general education, if at all they are to be successful in investigative journalism. Critical thinking is an important component of investigative journalism. And the way to develop the capacity for critical thinking is by getting a solid general education. You first of all need to understand how things work, before you can be in a position to start questioning how things work.
Having acquired a good general education, one needs to have solid training in journalism (general journalism) if at all they are to be successful in investigative journalism. Many opt to obtain basic arts or science degrees in order to acquire the necessary general education, before proceeding to undergo journalistic training at postgraduate level. The whole process at this level seems to be too cumbersome, and one can be tempted to quit and look for a simple 9 to 5 job. After all, companies like UPS are almost always recruiting. And the idea of being in a position to go to the UPS employee login page every fortnight, and logging in only to find a paycheck waiting for you can be irresistible – especially for those who lack genuine commitment.
The next step, after acquiring a good general education and professional training in journalism is that of establishing connections with potential ‘sources’. Beware: in the process of attempting to cultivate these sources, one can end up swimming in very murky waters, where ruthless characters operate. Therefore one needs to be very careful, and it helps if one has a (well-connected) guide in the entire process.
Once one has gone through these steps, they may need to seek employment at a media house that actually appreciates investigative journalism. As one comes to realize soon enough, investigative journalism is full of pitfalls — and not all media houses are ready for the continuous turbulence that comes with genuine investigative journalism. But if one searches hard enough, they may even be lucky enough to get work at one of the media outlets that specialize in investigative journalism. Needless to say, having gotten work as an investigative journalist, one has to keep on reading widely, updating skills, cultivating new sources… and so on.