Investigative Journalism, Alive and Well

March 13, 2012
By Katie Koch, Harvard Gazette

The finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting who gathered at Harvard Kennedy School had uncovered racial discrimination in presidential pardons, detailed a pattern of widespread sexual assault in the Peace Corps, and exposed toxic water supplies in Texas. Their work revealed the New York Police Department’s systematic profiling of Muslims and made public the details of the 2008 federal bank bailout.

But the finalists represented not just the payoff of hard work, skill, and luck, but also an increasingly rarified stratum of their profession: investigative reporting. As news organizations shrink and the Web demands more and faster news, the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy’s annual celebration last Wednesday of good old-fashioned muckraking seemed more necessary than ever.

Investigative reporting is “the most important kind of journalism,” noted Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center. “But it’s also the most difficult.”

More than a dozen journalists attested to the challenges of that work in “The Present and Future of Investigative Reporting,” a roundtable discussion that followed Tuesday evening’s awards ceremony. That night, a team of four Associated Press reporters took home the prize for “NYPD Intelligence Division,” a series that uncovered the New York Police Department’s controversial domestic intelligence operation, which sent undercover officers into ethnic neighborhoods to spy on residents.

“They call it mapping the human terrain of the city,” said the AP’s Matt Apuzzo on March 7. “It’s actually mapping the Muslim terrain of the city.”

The roundtable, which drew a large audience of working journalists and scholars, offered a window onto the reporting tactics that produced some of the past year’s success stories in investigative journalism. read more

A full list of the Goldsmith Awards finalists and winners, as well as links to their work, can be found here.

Print print | Email email
Panelists Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press; Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press; and Anna Schecter, ABC News

(From L to R) Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian; Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center; Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press; Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press; and Anna Schecter, ABC News.

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

Investigative reporting is “the most important kind of journalism,” noted Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center. “But it’s also the most difficult.”

wideshot of the entire panel discussion