Study: Investigative journalism has sunk to unprecedented depths

Investigative journalism has been praised for exposing large scale corruption by high ranking government officials and for connecting the dots in the capture of the state.

Journalists wait for the first press briefing having already setup at the ANC national conference on 16 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – A study into the state of journalism in South Africa has shown that investigative journalism has sunk to unprecedented depths.

This has been blamed on the general deterioration of newsrooms in the country which has affected the capacity for in-depth investigative work.

Investigative journalism has been praised for exposing large scale corruption by high-ranking government officials and private business and for connecting the dots in the capture of the state.

However, it appeared the beat was under renewed pressure with the study pointing to damage caused by admissions of false reporting by titles best-known for its investigative work.

In the chapter on the beat and its impact on the industry, Wits University’s Anton Harber wrote that most pockets of quality investigative journalism were now outside the conventional newsrooms and were being sustained by donor funding.

The study has also detailed how South African journalists were increasingly vulnerable to retrenchments and other forms of job insecurity as the sector faced continued decline.