By Derek Forbes.
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Yengeni is presently appealing his prison sentence. za/pims/arms/ • Former Sunday Times reporter, Mzilikazi wa Afrika discusses his experience of investigative journalism in a chapter of Changing the Fourth Estate: Essays on South African Journalism. za/ 26 Watchdog’s Guide to Investigative Reporting CHAPTER 5 Sourcing the Story Having planned the structure of your investigation, the next task is to get your hands on relevant information to prove your thesis. There is a process involved here: Preliminary interviews are generally conducted with sources to set the parameters of your investigation.
Of course, reluctant sources may be even less inclined to use new technology to communicate with a journalist, and electronic requests also allow sources to ignore or avoid inquiries altogether. Fax and e-mail interviews work well, as long as you have cooperative sources who are willing to respond via these channel. Dangerous Liaisons Owing to the cloak and dagger nature of some assignments, investigative 50 Watchdog’s Guide to Investigative Reporting journalism can be a dangerous game, with the threat of physical violence used to deter further investigation.
Investigative reporters’ home numbers should be unlisted. Identification through the use of photo bylines could be avoided. If threats are made against a journalist’s life, assistance can be sought from media colleagues and pressure groups such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Southern African Editors’ Forum, and local and international press institutes like Reporters Without Borders. International investigative reporters’ networks and human rights groups like Amnesty International can also be asked to apply pressure if situations arise.