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Investigative journalism and ethics: a slippery slide rule

Phillips, G.ORCID: 0000-0002-3491-2441 and Tapsall, S. (2002) Investigative journalism and ethics: a slippery slide rule. In: Tanner, S., (ed.) Journalism: Investigation & Research. Longman, Frenchs Forest, N.S.W, pp. 298-311.



Investigative journalism represents at one and the same time both the pinnacle of journalistic achievement and the most problematic of news genres. If news is ‘what somebody somewhere wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising’ 9lord Northcliffe, in Masterton & Patching 1997: 12), then investigative journalism is news in its truest sense – not the daily grind of common-or-garden reporting, but a striving to tell the public something it does not know, something it needs to know and something someone does not want it to know. Yet in pursuit of this real news, investigative journalists may have to break the rules, including many of the ethical principles on which journalism practice is supposed to be based. If, as Tapsall and Varley argue (2001: 3-4), any discussion of the ethics of investigative journalism must have as its starting point an understanding of what difficulties differentiates investigative journalism from the more mundane world of daily reporting.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Longman
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