The death of investigative journalism and who killed it?
The Golden Age of journalism
Before we get around to revealing the names of the murderers, I think I'd better anticipate some of the criticism that my colleagues in the journalism game might throw at me. You know, that helpful constructive criticism on the lines of 'here's another old-fart-looking-back-at-the-Golden-Age-of-journalism-that-never-really-existed'. Let's pre-empt that. More by luck than skill I spent most of my 60 years in journalism in, yes, the Golden Age, and the comparison I have to make is between that age and what passes for journalism today.
I started as a copyboy for David McNichol senior on the old Daily Telegraph. Remarkably, for a columnist who spent his later years as a bon viveur, McNichol kept me busy running down Castlereagh Street to the greasy Greeks to bring him back a double hamburger with egg (on which he seemed to thrive). I got my break on the Northern Star in Lismore as a cadet reporter, doing what I have since termed 'public service journalism': keeping the people of Lismore informed of what was going on around them - CWA meetings, town council meetings, swimming carnivals, speeches by the mayor, interviews with the sergeant of police. This was great training. You have to get the names right, or your readers will stop you in the street the next day to complain.
Yes, I have to admit it, there was the odd moment of shame; the first inkling that everything one reads in a newspaper is not necessarily the truth. One day the senior reporter, a Scotsman on the run from something nasty in the Old Country, turned to me and said, "It's your turn to do Suzanne". Suzanne? "Yes, 'Your Week in the Stars', by Suzanne". I looked bewildered. "Get your arse down to the filing room, turn up some copies of the paper for ten years ago, and copy out the stars." And then he added, "But change it around a bit. And don't give the same people bad luck two days running. They'll complain."
I wrote about this many years later, and received a letter from a lady who said she had been the editorial secretary at about the same time. She said I shouldn't worry too much about having made up the stars column. It was her job to ring up the weather bureau each night just before publication deadline and ask what tomorrow's weather was going to be. She said she hated doing so because the weatherman thought forecasting was a science, and tried to dictate the forecast to her. And it was full of stuff like "a cold front is moving in from the south-east". And she had to stop him and tell him that the paper had three little drawings for the weather - a man with an umbrella, a girl with her skirt blowing up in the wind, and a girl in a bikini. "And when I'd say to him, 'so which drawing is it going to be?', he would hang up in my ear. So I'd have to go up on the roof, look at the sky and make up the weather report."
Looking back on it now, this was a warning to me. Someone was telling me, "Don't go to work for the Truth". Remember Truth? Ezra Norton's amazing weekly - ANOTHER NUN OVER THE WALL AT TEMPE CONVENT. BEASTLY BROTHER IN BED WITH BOY. NORMAN VON NIDA CAUGHT IN LOVE BUNKER.
I did go to work for the Truth, and I was ambitious and foolhardy, so the editor said one morning that the paper was stuck for a sex maniac story, and since it was too late to find one I'd have to make one up. To my everlasting shame, I did. I invented a sex fiend who travelled on crowded suburban trains. He had a hook fashioned from a wire coat-hanger up his sleeve, and he would surreptitiously lower the hook and gently raise the skirts of girls standing next to him to glimpse the tops of their stockings.
The editor loved it. "If it's not true", he said, "it should be." The only change that he made was to christen the sex fiend THE HOOK, and have him operating that very Saturday night among crowds coming into town. The following Tuesday it was clear that we had got away with it. No other paper had denied it. How could they? The railway authorities had not complained, and there was no word from the police. Then my telephone rang, and an official sounding voice said, "Detective Sergeant Plowman, Bankstown police here. You the reporter who wrote that story about the sex maniac, the Hook?" "Yes", I said. "Righto," he said, "just wanted to tell you that we got the bastard this morning."
I'm less ashamed of the Hook than I once was because I've learnt from media commentator Mark Day that most of the stories about film stars and celebrities you read in the mass-selling women's magazines are made up. Pure fiction. As Day has put it: "It's not merely the case of putting the egg-beater into a few facts and concocting an appealing confection. It's worse. It's pure unadulterated bullshit, with out any basis in truth."
Well, back in 1954 I could see that if I continued to work for Ezra Norton any longer, the Truth would get me in the end, so I set off for fleet street and eventually wriggled my way on to the Sunday Times in its heyday. It had 350 editorial staff to reproduce a two-section quality broadsheet every Sunday. It was so overstaffed that some journalists went weeks without getting anything published in the paper. In fact, some of them were not even seen for weeks. It spent money like water on investigative journalism - two million pounds on legal costs alone fighting for its right to publish the story about the thalidomide scandal. It averaged a libel writ a week. The editor, Harold Evans, was unhappy if a libel writ had not arrived by Tuesday, because he felt that the paper had not been doing its job - defending people without power from those who wielded it unfairly. Here was a paper that believed in something, which took enormous pains to get things right, and which fought for its editorial integrity.
One day, the owner of the paper, a Canadian called Lord Thompson, knocked on the editor's door while the morning news conference was in progress, said "hello", and then rather tentatively asked: "Say boys, would it be possible to squeeze in the Canadian ice hockey results each Sunday?" There was a moment of shocked silence. Then the deputy editor, Hugo Young, said, "Lord Thompson, this is an editorial news conference to which you've not been invited. If you'd like to put your suggestion in writing, I'm sure that the sports editor will be winning to consider it." And next morning there was a note to the editor from Lord Thompson apologising for attempting to interfere with the paper's editorial policy. Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch ever doing such a thing?
So this is my benchmark. It's against this Golden Age that I plan to measure the performance of the media today, especially newspapers - because I know more about them - and especially in the field of investigative reporting.
Something big has been going on
Now, everybody who has anything to do with newspapers - either as a producer or a consumer - has been aware for many years now that something big has been going on in the industry, a sea change as deep and as radical as the arrival of the new technology in the 1980s. Newspaper circulations are declining all over the Western world. Viewing figures for news and current affairs are down. There is general public contempt for journalists. In the last five years half a million AB readers - 'AB' means educated top income group readers - have deserted the British quality press. OK, so they just changed papers, found the tabloids a quicker juicer read. I'm afraid not. They disappeared. It is an extraordinary fact that of the 11 million AB adults in Britain, the 11 million educated high-earners, about one-third do not read any daily newspaper whatsoever. All over the English-speaking world, many young people in all socio-economic classes have got out of the habit of reading newspapers.
In any other industry, if customers were vanishing at this rate there would be panic. But in the media industry it is only recently that hard questions are at last being asked. Le Monde, announcing an English language version of Le Monde Diplomatique, turned on its own. "We all know that the media can no longer be trusted, that their performance is incompetent ... that they broadcast blatent lies as if they were manifest truths." The famous Polish correspondent and author, Ryszard Kapuscinski, agreed:
In the old days the most valued thing about news was its truth. Now that has changed. An editor no longer asks whether the news is true, but whether it is interesting. If they don't find it interesting, then they don't publish it. From an ethical point of view, this is a major change.
Is the media, particularly TV, in the business of "the mass production of ignorance"? Is it possible that the more TV news we watch, the less we know? There is a case to answer on both counts. If it is the media's job to interpret the world for us, why has the total output of factual programs on developing countries dropped by 50 per cent in the past ten years - 50 per cent!
Perhaps this has been due to the death of the old-fashioned foreign correspondent. You remember them, the expert in his or her area who had the language, knowledge and background not only to report on what was happening, but to explain why it was happening. Professor Virgil Hawkins of Osaka University suggests that technology has killed them off. He says that the process goes like this: greater competition among media giants leads to budget cuts, so resources for newsgathering are diverted to buying and maintaining high-tech equipment. This means foreign correspondents are expected to cover larger areas of the globe, and in the process lose their specialist expertise. "They race from one humanitarian disaster to another, with little time or background knowledge to grasp the issues behind the conflicts they cover". This tends to produce highly emotional first hand accounts, described by Claudio Monteiro of Leicester University in her analysis of the Portuguese media coverage of East Timor, as "good cause journalism ... journalism of affection", with the journalist as the hero of his or her own story.
Now, while all this has been happening, government interest in the media has intensified. It is as if governments realised, even before the TV and newspaper bosses, that the power, reach and influence of the modern media are enormous. The CNN News group is available to 800 million people across the globe, BBC World can be viewed in more than 167 million homes across 200 countries, Al Jazeera reaches at least 75 million viewers in the Muslim world alone. For any political party, the ability to 'handle the media' is these days seen as an essential element in gaining power and then, once in government, in maintaining it and carrying out policy. The old-fashioned government 'press officer' has gone. The British government has a 'Director of Communications and Strategy', whose job it is to manage the media and manipulate public perception of government actions.
The United States underpins its 'hard' power - its awe-inspiring military capacity - with 'soft' power - its ability to achieve its goals through the media; and its practitioners speak of a different world of journalism in which 'global media strategy' and 'international perception management' use journalists as pawns in the new Great Game. In its updated foreign policy, Washington talks of "full spectrum dominance": the US should aim to be top dog in all spheres - military, economic production, business, culture and, significantly, information.
In an ideal world, a free press and a curious, sceptical army of campaigning journalists should keep democracies and their leaders in line, especially today. And, almost as important, it should act as a check to the increasing power of corporations, especially international ones.
What's gone wrong?
So what's stopping these journalists? What's gone wrong? The list is lengthy. Government propaganda and pressure. Pressure from corporations, including those which own newspapers and television stations. (Why didn't we realise earlier that the corporate world, so often the target for journalists, would one day find ways of fighting back and - as we shall see - very effective ways.) Legal pressure. Social pressure. And professional self-pressure, for journalists themselves are not entirely without blame for the state of the media today. Let's deal with these pressures one by one.
Those in power who think about these things have always been puzzled by this question: "If we can so successfully manage the media in wartime, why can't we do the same in peacetime?" There is no trouble doing so in autocratic regimes. The media tells the public what the government wants it to know. End of story. Newspapers and broadcasting stations that do not toe the line lose their licences, or their editors go to jail, or - in some extreme cases - are shot. This does not happen in democratic countries, but there are nevertheless ways open to governments to exercise some control of the media. The first and most often used is an appeal to 'the national interest'.
In the United States, the events of 11 September have been used as an argument to deter journalists who dared to criticise or question their home country. When three time in July last year the New York Times printed excerpts of secret Pentagon plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration accused the newspaper of "reckless reporting", "putting American lives at risk" and even "treason". But the distinguished journalist academic, Bill Kovach, says that it is precisely at times like these that journalists need to be even more diligent in the pursuit of truth: "A journalist is never more true to democracy, is never more engaged as a citizen, is never more patriotic than when aggressively doing the job of independently verifying the news of the day". At other times, the media has been willing to censor itself at the government's request. In 1986 Washington Post editor, Benjamin C Bradlee, announced that in the first five months of that year the Post had, at the government's request, withheld information from stories a dozen times on the grounds of a risk to national security.
There are other ways of managing the media without using the "risk to national security" approach. The government of India adopts a carrot and stick tactic. The carrot can include subsidised housing in so-called "journalists' colonies", a government-paid trip abroad, a seat on an important government or semi-government committee, and even a posting as an ambassador. As the Pioneer newspaper of New Delhi wrote recently, "With rewards like these, who would want to needlessly antagonise the government?"
Those who do antagonise the Indian government soon find out what the stick involves. The on-line TV investigative program, Tehelka.com, revealed - by using concealed cameras - that several senior government politicians were prepared to take bribes from a Tehelka reporter posing as a defence contractor. Tehelka and its staff were quickly subjected to a series of raids by the income tax authorities in a move deliberately calculated to terrorise the journalists and their financiers into silence. The writings of the Kashmir Times journalist Ifthekar Geelani displeased the government, so he soon found himself charged with dealing in pornography. The evidence: police said that when they seized and examined his laptop they found spam emails from professional pornographers offering Geelani their services.
In Australia, as part of the running campaign to intimidate the media, the federal health department threatened the editor of the Australian newspaper with prosecution under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act. What had he done? He'd published on page three of the newspaper a story about a Hollywood producer who had arrived in Australia on a visit. The story was accompanied by a photograph of the said producer who was - in the way of Hollywood producers - smoking a big, fat cigar. The health department argued that the Australian was a commercial venture and that, by definition, as such it sought to profit from its choice of articles and photographs - in this case, of someone smoking a cigar. Therefore it was promoting smoking and was clearly in breach of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act.
September 11 and the subsequent attack on Afghanistan revealed just how successfully governments now manage the media in wartime. Since few correspondents were able to get into Afghanistan when the bombing was at its peak, and those who did risked their lives (at least eight correspondents were killed - a far greater rate of casualties than servicemen, so it is apparently safer to be a soldier than a journalist), there was none of the graphic reporting of civilian suffering that could have eroded public support for the war.
Now the battle between government and the media is not new - it has gone on since the late 19th century when a rise in literacy created millions of new readers for newspapers and magazines, and made those in power worry whether this could cost them control of the electorate. What is new and worrying is the rise of legal pressure on the media to desist from subjecting both governments and corporations to public scrutiny.
The libel laws in English-speaking countries are a burden on newspapers and a major deterrent to investigative reporting. In the United States it is a sufficient defence for a journalist to be able to show that the plaintiff is a public figure, that the journalist had no malice towards the plaintiff and that the journalists made very effort to get their facts right. Elsewhere - in Britain and Australia, for instance - not only is this no defence, but the onus is on the journalists to prove that what he or she has written is true. Since this is often very hard to do, awards to politicians and other public figures are often huge, and often include an element of punitive damages.
A journalist in Melbourne wrote a column suggesting that a local magistrate was too lenient on criminals. The magistrate sued for defamation. The jury found that the article was not true (but failed to say what was not true about it), and it was not fair comment on matters of public interest (but did not explain why). Then, confusingly, it found that the newspaper was not inspired by malice and it was reasonable in the circumstances for the paper to have published the article. When it came time for the judge to award damages, she made much of the magistrate's "hurt feelings" and loss of reputation. She awarded him compensatory damages of $210,000 (but gave no details of how he had come up with this amount) plus $25,000 for punitive damages (again, no details) and $11,500 in interest (no calculations provided). That made a total windfall to the magistrate, all tax free, of $246,500. As the editor of the newspaper pointed out, if a man were to have his reproductive organ chopped off in a workplace accident, the maximum damages he could receive is $75,000 and, "given the choice, reproductive organ or reputation, I know which I'd prefer to lose."
High defamation damages have a knock-on effect in the way they inhibit investigative reporting. There is an organisation in Washington DC called the Center for Public Integrity (of which more later). Financed by charitable donations, its aim is to call public bodies to account. It produces at each presidential election time a book called The Buying of the Presidency, in which it lists all donors to the candidates' campaign, and shows what each donor hopes (expects?) to receive in return. It was the Center which revealed, for example, that big donor's to the Clinton campaign were offered in return a weekend stay at the White House.
The Center's work is at the cutting edge of journalism, but it is threatened not just by the defamation actions brought against it and the cost of defending them (even if the actions have no merit and will eventually be thrown out of court), but by the cost of insurance. This is because American insurance companies have a rule that if the insured media organisation has three libel actions pending against it - irrespective of the merit of those actions - its insurance policy becomes void. Without defamation insurance, the Center cannot risk continuing its function - its insurance company has already paid out over US$1 million in legal fees defending one case, which its lawyers say will eventually be thrown out of court. Lawyers, of course, know the 'three libel writs and you're out' rule. If they want to stop a story, one of the first things they do is to see how many writs a media organisation has outstanding, and if it is two, then they file another one themselves knowing that, frivolous or not, this will effectively shut down the story.
Dangers lurk around every corner for the Center. Two freelance writers approached it with an outline of an important story. The Center hired them, but eventually rejected their story because of problems over documentation and reliability. The freelancers took the story elsewhere and it was eventually published. The people named in the story sued the freelance writers for defamation, but they also joined the Center in their action - even though the Center had published nothing - claiming that the Center had "aided and abetted" the libel.
American law firms, always keen to push the law to the limits to deter investigative journalists, have come up with new ploys that many consider even more effective than an action for defamation. They advertise, offering corporations and individuals 'pre-emptive strikes' against troublesome media. Their advice is along these lines:
When you learn that journalists are making enquiries about you, or when journalists approach you, do not wait until the news item is published or broadcast and then sue for defamation. The damage is already done. Hit back immediately and stop the item before it is published. We know ways of doing this.
The "ways" include examining the financial structure of the media organisation to see if pressure can be applied through a parent or associated company, analysing the advertising revenue of the company to see if a major advertiser can be persuaded to apply pressure, and compiling a dossier on the personal background of the investigating reporter to see if he or she can be intimidated into dropping the story.
The famous investigative journalist, Seymour Hersch - he broke the story about the My Lai massacre - wrote a long investigative article for the New Yorker last year exposing questionable behaviour by a major American oil company. Lawyers for the oil company lent on him so heavily before publication that he was forced to move all his assets offshore to lessen the risk that the oil company would bankrupt him. Hersch says that attacking corruption in government is easy compared with attacking corporations: governments don't sue, corporations always sue.
If none of these tactics works, then these new media law firms set out to make an example of the weakest link in the media front, usually the journalist, using, where possible, the criminal law rather than the defamation law. Take one notorious case in the United States, that of Food Lion v ABC television.
Back in 1992, some ABC journalists were approached by a worker in a Food Lion meat processing plant, who told them that the company 'cleaned up' spoiled, out-of-date meat, repacked it and sold it as fresh. The worker emphasised that there was no way he could agree to be the source for the story and that the journalists would have to find a way of verifying his information without involving him. The journalists considered the story so important, of such public interest, revealing as it did a threat to public health, that they resorted to subterfuge to verify their informant's story, They decided to go under cover with hidden cameras, and film inside the Food Lion processing plant. They applied for and got jobs as food processors at their plant.
There they discovered that the information was indeed accurate. Food Lion did clean up and repackage spoiled meat. They saw it themselves and they covertly filmed it. When the story went to air in the Prime Time Live program, Food Lion did not sue for libel. Instead its lawyers set out undermining the journalists' reporting methods so as to discredit them. The journalists, in filling in their application forms for jobs with Food Lion, had to invent an employment background in the food processing industry which, in reality, they did not have. Food Lion sued for falsification of employment applications and trespass, alleging that since the journalists had gained access to Food Lion's premises by fraud, then they had no right to be there and were trespassing. In a hearing in a federal court, the jury accepted Food Lion's arguments and decided that damages of US$5.5 million were appropriate. The truth or otherwise of the selling of spoiled food never came up once. Even worse, under pain of being committed for contempt of court and possibly going to jail, the journalists were forced to reveal the identity of the Food Lion employee who had tipped them off. He now faces as action for breaching the confidentiality which the law says an employee owes his employer. Needless to say, this will be a deterrent to him and whistleblowers in general.
How's our list of pressures on investigative journalists going? We've done government propaganda, pressure from corporations, legal pressure and social pressure. Let's move on to professional self-pressure. The new technology drew attention to the cost of gathering news - as distinct from the cost of producing a newspaper or a TV program. The accountants - the people who now really run the media industry - moved to slash news-gathering budgets. All over the world, overseas news bureaux were closed, foreign correspondents called home.
Newsweek was once a proud news magazine that prided itself on covering the world. It had a large bureaux in Hong Kong which covered India and South-East Asia, and bureaux in both Beirut and Cairo. It now has not a single bureaux or staff correspondent in that great arc of the world stretching from Tokyo to Jerusalem. This includes the centre of the world's hottest news source, the Muslim Middle East. This is now covered by reporters working out of those two big Islamic news centres - London and Paris. How it could close its New Delhi bureau, which was vital for covering the period of the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan and the testing by India and Pakistan of their nuclear weapons, beggars belief. So much for covering the world.
All over the Western world, journalists, who should have been up in arms about the downgrading of foreign news, were brought off. Many became highly-paid columnists, celebrities in their own right, pushing their opinions rather than gathering facts. Or writers about lifestyle, relationships, gossip, travel, beauty, fashion, gardening and do-it-yourself which, although sometimes interesting in themselves, can hardly compare in importance with examining the human condition at the beginning of the 21st century, which is what serious journalists try to do.
Resources for hope
So what is the outlook for the future? Not quite as gloomy as the picture I have painted. There are one or two encouraging signs. In the United States - which usually sets the pace in these matters - the Center for Public Integrity and its offshoot, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (the ICIJ) has stunned the media world with its successes. Created by Charles Lewis, a disgruntled TV reporter, with its little seed money from philanthropic organisations and concerned citizens, the Center specialises in looking at the financing and behaviour of politicians running for office, in particular presidential campaigns. The Center's books that come from this research - The Buying of the Presidency - are required reading for anyone who wants to understand how the lobbying and campaign donations system works, and thus to assess the level of corruption in American public life.
It was the Center which broke the story about George W Bush's failure to file timely reports of his interests and transactions with Harken Energy. Interestingly, the Center first published these details DURING the presidential campaign, but a lazy American mainstream press failed to notice them and it was not until July 2 this year that the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman mentioned them in the context of the deepening crisis in American business, that the Center's phones started ringing, and didn't stop for days.
The ICIJ is an attempt to move the Center's domestic investigations onto an international level. Its membership comprises 85 top rank journalists from around the world. It meets every two years to discuss projects and provide its members with a chance to help each other in international stories. It thinks big. It was the ICIJ which uncovered the cigarette smuggling operations being run by the big tobacco corporations to undermine government tobacco taxation policies. This exposure resulted in a Commons Inquiry in Britain and legal action against companies in other countries.
The ICIJ has recently been running on its website an investigation into "The Business of War", which has exposed the companies and individuals who make enormous profits from arms dealing, and from providing mercenaries, body guards and private armies. It has now looked at "Who Owns Your Water?", which is about six international companies which control most of the world's water supplies and are aggressively expanding their operations.
The Center and the ICIJ publish their findings on their own website, but the mainstream media has shown increasing interest in picking up stories from both organisations, and even in doing deals in advance for investigations which interest them. In short, they have taken over the role that was once a major part of serious newspapers and television programs.
And just to show that there are still plenty of stories out there to investigate, the ICIJ each year offers a US$20,000 prize, open to anyone anywhere, for the best piece of international investigative reporting. This year's prize list will give you some of the flavour. The winner was Newsday reporter Thomas Maier for a five part series showing that immigrant workers in the US died on the job at a rate far greater than native-born workers and their deaths were seldom investigated. Runner up was Bamidele Adebayo of the News magazine in Nigeria for his investigation into a financial scam that drained money from a Brazilian bank and has financial ramifications on two continents.
Then there is "Reporting the World", a project run by the Conflict and Peace Forums of Tapalow Court, Buckinghamshire. It has spent a lot of time and effort in getting around a conference table those journalists who have reported major conflicts and crises in recent years, and encouraging them to criticise each other's work in a constructive manner. More than two hundred editors, writers, producers, and reporters helped to produce a practical check-list of upholding the values of balance, fairness and responsibility in their coverage of international affairs. Most of these meetings were arranged by the European Centre of the Freedom Forum based in London. The Centre's parent body, the Freedom Association of Arlington, Virginian, is a non-partisan foundation, a successor to one started in 1935 by publisher Frank E Gannett with the slogan: "a free press, free speech and free spirit for all people".
The London centre was a beacon for journalists of all colours, creeds and political beliefs, united by their concern that journalism should remain more than celebrity lifestyle, trivialisation, confessions and comic book stories. Now for the irony. Six weeks after 11 September, the parent body in the United States closed it down, saying that they needed the money for a news museum in downtown Washington!
For me, one of the most important achievements of the "Reporting the World" project was to throw back to journalists some of the responsibility for the decline of reporting standards. An executive of a large Australian company told me the other day of the preparations he had made to cope with the media after his company had brought about come controversial changes - three libel lawyers on standby, two public relations officers manning an 'instant rebuttal' unit, the CEO briefed and on call to answer tricky media questions. What happened? "Nothing", he said. "There were no questions. The journalists missed the whole thing."
The British reporters, producers and editors who took part in the 'Reporting the World' project agreed that they would have to overcome self-censorship and the constraints of consensus and inertia and start thinking through stories for themselves because - and this is the crunch sentence - "Each individual journalist carries at any moment an unknowable share of the responsibility for what happens next".
So investigative journalism is not dead yet, just moribund. Let's run through what can be done to revive it. We have to convince news organisations that there is more to journalism than profits and share price, that slick accountancy and cost cutting are not going to win an editor or a proprietor a place in the history books. We need a public interest defence in all legal actions brought against the media. A journalist should be able to defend his story by showing that what it revealed was so important to the public that everything else was irrelevant - something that, thanks to the European Court of Human Rights, the Sunday Times succeeded in doing in the thalidomide case. I mean, if a drug company is marketing a drug that deforms unborn babies, then how the journalist got the story and whether it defamed drug company executives has just got to take second place to informing the public. And we can support media that does investigative journalism, and stop buying media that does not. We can think for ourselves. We can complain. We are not without power.
Phillip Knightley is one of the world's most distinguished investigative journalists, and the author, amongst much else, of the classic The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Kosovo (revised edition published in 2002). This is the text of his address to the Evatt Foundation seminar on The Death of Investigative Journalism and Who Killed It? held at Sydney's Seymour Centre on 15 February 2003.