There is one question that people keep on asking me, whenever I give public lectures on the subject of investigative journalism. It is the question as to what sort of training one needs, in order to become an investigative journalist. I normally get this question from youngsters who are considering getting into this sort of work. You realize that there are folks who are really attracted to investigative journalism. Those are folks who are keen on getting into this field, even after learning about the manner in which investigative journalism can ruin one’s reputation.
In answering the question as to what sort of training one needs in order to become an investigative journalist, I normally point out the obvious: that one needs to be trained in journalism, and in investigations. It is the combination of trainings in journalism and in investigations that makes one a good investigative journalism.
Most of the people who specialize in investigative journalism tend to be folks who have formal training in journalism, and informal training in investigations. The informal training is sometimes acquired on the job: like where one is hired by a media house to work as an ordinary journalist, before drifting to the investigative department. After getting into the said department, one ends up being trained on the investigative aspect by the folks who are already working there. Under this system, one gets paid throughout the (informal, in-house) training. Like let’s say, for instance, that the media house is one that uses the Securitas ePay system to process its workers’ payroll. In that case, the journalist who is being taught how to approach investigative journalism will, in the meantime, still be going to www.securitasepay.com (The Securitas ePay site) to receive paychecks every fortnight.
There is also the possibility of undergoing formal training in both aspects of investigative journalism. Under this approach, one goes to a normal journalism training school, to learn the journalistic aspect of the job. Then one goes through a course in investigations (like the ones that private detectives go through) in order to learn the investigative aspect. Then the combination of trainings in journalism and investigations gives rise to an investigative journalist.