Global Investigative Journalism Network

Militha Mihiranga

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The need for a sophisticated, multinational corps of investigative reporters has never been greater. We live in a globalized era in which our commerce—and our crimes–are multinational.

Investigative journalists are now on the job in more than a hundred countries, following trails and connecting with their colleagues in a more organized, more profound way than ever before. They have become, in effect, the “special forces” of global journalism. To succeed, journalists worldwide need the best training and technology to do their jobs. That’s why the Global Investigative Journalism Network is here.

Our Mission

The Global Investigative Journalism Network serves as the international hub for the world’s investigative reporters. Our core mission is to support and strengthen investigative journalism around the world—with special attention to those from repressive regimes and marginalized communities. At the heart of GIJN is an international association of nonprofit journalism organizations. From its founding in 2003, GIJN has grown to include 227 member groups in 88 countries. Today, with staff based in 24 countries, GIJN works in a dozen languages to link together the world’s most enterprising journalists, giving them the tools, technology, and training to go after abuses of power and lack of accountability. Among our activities:

Conferences and Training: Every two years, GIJN organizes and co-hosts the Global Investigative Journalism Conference. Since 2014, we have also organized the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference. In addition, GIJN trains journalists worldwide on investigative tools and techniques through other conferences, workshops, webinars, seminars, and online videos, working through our own programs and through those of our member and partner organizations. Our conferences feature a highly competitive fellowship program that has trained over a thousand journalists from developing and transitioning countries.

GIJN Resource Center: GIJN’s free online Resource Center is used by journalists in 100 countries per day in 12 languages (English, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bangla, Chinese, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu). With over a thousand tip sheets, videos, and reporting guides, the Center has become first-stop shopping for journalists embarking on stories worldwide.

GIJN Help Desk: Since its set up in 2012, the GIJN Help Desk has responded to nearly 12,000 requests for assistance from around the world. With access to hundreds of experts on investigative techniques, data journalism, nonprofits, funding, safety and security, and more, the Help Desk responds to a wide range of requests.

Capacity Building: Through GIJN Advisory Services, GIJN offers a range of resources, training, and assessments for watchdog media to build capacity. We can evaluate an organization’s editorial operations, business practices, fundraising, security, and legal exposure, and provide recommendations to strengthen sustainability.

Publishing and Network-Building: GIJN runs multilingual publishing and social media feeds on 20 platforms in 12 languages, featuring trends, events, news, and techniques on investigative and data journalism worldwide. On an average day, viewers from 140 countries visit our main site. Our daily social media feeds, published in regional editions, run hundreds of items per month.

Membership Services: GIJN provides services to its member organizations, such as discounted or free software; preferred access to GIJN’s Help Desk, Resource Center, and conferences; and pro bono consulting on fundraising, business practices, and advanced reporting techniques.

Global Shining Light Awards: Every two years, GIJN gives out the coveted Global Shining Light Awards, given to journalists in developing or transitioning countries for outstanding investigative journalism under threat or duress.

Our profession’s challenges are considerable – journalists jailed and shot at, stories censored and publications closed, harassment lawsuits, a lack of funding, training, and institutional support – but these are outweighed by the rapid progress we are making in spreading state-of-the-art investigative journalism to the farthest reaches of the planet.

We invite you to join us.

The Global Investigative Journalism Network was founded in 2003 when more than 300 journalists from around the world gathered for the second Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Copenhagen. Since then it has grown to 211 member organizations in 82 countries.

Every two years, GIJN holds the Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which has brought together more than 8,000 journalists from 140 countries since 2001. GIJN also co-hosts the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference, and its member organizations hold regional conferences such as the African Investigative Journalism Conference sponsored by Wits University in Johannesburg. The initial global conference was held in Copenhagen in 2001; Other conferences have been held in Copenhagen (2003), Amsterdam (2005), Toronto (2007), Lillehammer (2008), Geneva (2010), Kyiv (2011), Rio de Janeiro (2013), Lillehammer (2015), Johannesburg (2017), and Hamburg (2019).

At the Kyiv conference, delegates decided to create a provisional secretariat to better manage the GIJN’s conferences and increase its capacity to support investigative journalism around the world. The secretariat was officially launched in February 2012; its executive director is David Kaplan. The executive director and secretariat report to the GIJN Board, which consists of members elected by GIJN membership representatives.

In 2014 GIJN registered as a nonprofit corporation in the U.S. state of Maryland. In July 2015, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service approved GIJN as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, allowing it to receive tax-deductible contributions.

What Is Investigative Journalism?

While definitions of investigative reporting vary, among professional journalism groups there is the broad agreement of its major components: systematic, in-depth, and original research and reporting, often involving the unearthing of secrets. Others note that its practice often involves heavy use of public records and data, with a focus on social justice and accountability.

MagnifyerStory-Based Inquiry, an investigative journalism handbook published by UNESCO, defines it thus: “Investigative journalism involves exposing to the public matters that are concealed–either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding. It requires using both secret and open sources and documents.” The Dutch-Flemish investigative journalism group VVOJ defines investigative reporting simply as “critical and in-depth journalism.”

Some journalists, in fact, claim that all reporting is investigative reporting. There is some truth to this—investigative techniques are used widely by beat journalists on deadline as well as by “I-team” members with weeks to work on a story. But investigative journalism is broader than this–it is a set of methodologies that are a craft, and it can take years to master. A look at stories that win top awards for investigative journalism attests to the high standards of research and reporting that the profession aspires to: in-depth inquiries that painstakingly track looted public funds, abuse of power, environmental degradation, health scandals, and more.

Sometimes called enterprise, in-depth, or project reporting, investigative journalism should not be confused with what has been dubbed “leak journalism”–quick-hit scoops gained by the leaking of documents or tips, typically by those in political power. Indeed, in emerging democracies, the definition can be rather vague, and stories are often labeled investigative reporting simply if they are critical or involve leaked records. Stories that focus on crime or corruption, analysis, or even outright opinion pieces may similarly be mislabeled as investigative reporting.

Veteran trainers note that the best investigative journalism employs a careful methodology, with heavy reliance on primary sources, forming and testing a hypothesis, and rigorous fact-checking. The dictionary definition of “investigation” is “systematic inquiry,” which typically cannot be done in a day or two; a thorough inquiry requires time. Others point to the field’s key role in pioneering new techniques, as in its embrace of computers in the 1990s for data analysis and visualization. “Investigative reporting is important because it teaches new techniques, new ways of doing things,” observed Brant Houston, the Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of Illinois, who served for years as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. “Those techniques blend down into everyday reporting. So you’re raising the bar for the entire profession.”

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