Investigative journalism is a serious business. At the Association of Journalists Press House on Aug. 28, a very exciting event was hosted. Sponsored by the European Union, the Association of Journalists, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and some other Balkan stakeholders, the 2018 EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey were granted to their recipients. Similar awards have been realized covering the entirety of the Balkans, and an award ceremony will be held in Montenegro with the participation of the winners very soon.
Although being investigative is a prerequisite of being a journalist, and despite it not being possible to produce news without investigation, it would be impossible to conclude that this is the situation today. Public relations is being confused with journalism, furthermore publicity pieces are being regarded as public disclosure, or in other words, confused with actual journalism.
Journalists are investigative. Investigative journalists are the hardworking, honest people that expose the dubious activities of those in power positions that are hidden from the general public. Investigative journalists are objective, but this does not mean they are “impartial.” It is imperative to give equal importance to the perspectives of all parties in the event that is being investigated while sticking to facts and being fair.
The duty of investigative journalists is to investigate, document and expose those in power who are in transgression of the law or are acting in harm against the public, whether it be the usage of additives harmful to public health, or violence against women and children, corruption, nepotism or bribery. The public has the right to know everything that concerns it and that is hidden from it, whether these are unfulfilled election promises, or the dirty relations between businessmen and politicians. In short, investigative journalism is a means for the public to exercise this right.
It is very unfortunate that investigative journalists are subjected to numerous threats and intimidating circumstances not only in our own country, but around the world. Journalists must keep in mind they are the loyal servants of public interest, and not forget that journalism is considered to be the fourth power of a democracy and is protected by national and international provisions. A dear friend of mine once made the following remarks when defining journalism in a conference “Journalism cannot be practiced without the desire of protecting, at all costs, truth in the face of deception, light in the face of darkness, and justice in the face of injustice.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Journalism is a lifestyle. Investigative journalism is the determination of living this lifestyle properly.