Investigative Journalism: Role and impact in the fight against financial crimes Founder and General Manager of Kuwait Compliance Company . Huda Abdullah Al-Anzi


Concept of Investigative Journalism


It is a type of press investigation intended to investigate, inspect and verify the validity of information regarding a case pre-publication. It usually deals with a case or issue that others do not wish to see or appear in the media or community interface and tends to reveal facts to the public which are hidden either by coincidence because of the accumulation of events, facts and circumstances and has become difficult to understand, or deliberately concealed by a person or persons in a position of authority or influence.


Investigative Journalism by Definition


•           The former Executive Director of Arab Media for Investigative Journalism Rana Sabbagh defines IJ: That journalism which is based on the documentation of information and facts in a systematic and objective manner aimed at exposing the hidden and making a difference to the public good.

•           The American Organization for Investigative Journalism defines as an in depth press coverage that reveals a secret that someone wants to keep as secrete or an in depth press coverage that signs systemic failures and incorrect policies as a result of a journalist's effort.


Emergence of Investigative Journalism


•           The print press has resorted to the creation of a new type of journalism called "investigative journalism" as a result of the tremendous development in the media, especially digital.

•           Investigative journalism aims to provide facts and access them more deeply than the visual or audio press.

•           Characterized by its handling of private evidence, undisclosed sources, leaks and facts that are often incomplete.

•           Highlights written issues that other media are unable to address in depth and objectively, particularly those related to corruption.

•           Contributes effectively to the formation and drive of public opinion, while focusing on how to deal with issues and address them, which makes them offer distinct and multidimensional press products.


Difference between Traditional and Investigative Journalism - Research


Investigative Journalism

Traditional Journalism


  1. Information can only be published if it is verified and complete.

Information is collected and sent at a constant rhythm (daily, weekly, monthly).

  1. The research continues until the story is verified and may continue after it is published.

The research is completed quickly and no further search is done after the story is complete.

  1. The story is based on the maximum amount of information collected and can be extensively long.

The story is based on the necessary minimum information and can be very short.

  1. A press investigation requires documentation to corroborate or challenge sources' statements.

Sources's statements can replace documentation.


Difference between Traditional and Investigative Journalism - Relationship with the Source

Relationships with the Source

  1. Trust in the source cannot be taken for granted: a source may provide false information. Unverified information may not be useful.

Trust in the source is presumed and it is mostly quoted without verification.

  1. Official information is concealed from the media because its disclosure may endanger the interests of the authorities and institutions.

Official sources provide information to the media free of charge to enhance their role and promote their objectives.

  1. The journalist candidly challenges the official version based on information he draws from independent sources.

A journalist can only accept the official version of the story, although he or she can challenge it with comments or statements from other sources.

  1. The media collects and acts upon more information than any single source of its sources and handles more information than most or all of its sources.

The media acts upon lesser information than most or all of its sources.

  1. Sources are often not identifiable to ensure their security.

Sources are almost always identifiable.




Difference between Traditional and Investigative Journalism - Findings


  1. The media worker refuses to accept the world as it is. The aim of his or her story is to penetrate or undress a particular situation in order to remedy or condemn it. In certain cases it targets providing an example of a better path to be followed.

The press investigation is seen as a reflection of the world that is accepted as it is. The journalist does not hope to reach findings beyond merely telling or presenting the public to his or her topics.

  1. Without the personal and enthusiastic involvement of the journalist, the story will never be complete.

A journalistic investigation does not require personal involvement or enthusiasm from the journalist.

  1. The journalist seeks to be fair and presents facts of the story accurately and accordingly may identify its victims, heroes and culprits and may also judge the story or make a decision about it.

The journalist seeks to be as objective as possible without prejudice to any party to the story or refrains from judging it.

  1. The dramatic or progressive plot of the story is necessary for its influence and leads to a conclusion provided by the journalist or the source.

The dramatic plot is rather not important in the journalistic investigation and the story has no end because the news simply continues and keep coming in.

  1. Journalist errors may expose him or her to official or less than official penalties that could destroy the credibility of the journalist and the media product or platform.

The journalist may attempt mistakes but they are inevitable and usually trivial.


Investigative Research Stages



The Importance of Investigative Journalism

The importance of investigative journalism stems from the function it performs, as:

•           A part of the specialized regulatory framework that builds public opinion, especially if its findings are adopted by the political players.

•           It exposes scandals, crimes and corruption of politicians, officials and stakeholders

•           A tool to unfold the truth and find out whether or not it is true, and a tool that deepens the understanding of events.

•           An important tool for initiating investigations by the competent State agencies into money and mismanagement crimes.

•           An institutional source of information and a database.

•           It represents in depth journalism and the future of successful and impactful lively journalism.

The Approach to Investigative Journalism is Linked to that of Combating Financial Crimes

Five W’s + 1H


In press investigations as traditional reporting, the building of content material relies on the known five W’s: Who, what, where, when and why and the sixth question How.

Any investigative work attempts to answer all questions with precision and clarity. The five W’s are not only developed quantitatively, but also qualitatively.

The investigative journalists Nils Hanson and Mark Hunter are quoted in their book “Story-Based Inquiry: a Manual for  Investigative Journalists” In collaboration  with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) as saying: “Investigations overwhelm the typical structure of news story which simply gives the famous “five W’s – who, what, when, where and why. An Investigation includes those elements, but in a much deeper, wider form.”


Some Arab Investigative Journalism Stories


•             Collusion of Yemen Airways and travel brokers and agents.

•             The complicity of doctors and nurses in public sector hospitals in Tunisia.

•             Billions of dollars wasted in fueling the electricity crisis in Lebanon as the Turkish Karadonis receives contract award without bidding in open tender.

•             $112 million wasted on fake cultural projects in Iraq.

•             Mauritanian domestic workers are victims of exploitation by local intermediaries who shipped them to Saudi Arabia amongst state collusion with recruitment intermediaries.

•             Commercial arms brokers conceal true cost of U.S. arms deals to allies in Yemen war.

•             Ministry of Interior's collusion as millions of judicial rulings in financial cases survive implementation in Egypt.


Major International Organizations Working in Investigative Journalism


•             Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project is a non-mainstream media organization in 34 countries with dozens of journalists and many major regional news organizations across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Its investigations cover corruption, and aim to build greater accountability by exposing abuse of power at the expense of the people.

•             OCCRP has produced more than 90 cross-border investigations. The organization's website has been visited by more than six million readers and viewers in 2018. OCPR is among the world's largest investigative content producers. In 2017, it reached 200 million readers and viewers through traditional media that published, commented and written about their work.


-              The Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has unveiled a global plan to launder $9,000,000,000 created and run by Russia's largest private investment bank with close links to the country's ruling elite.

-              The Troika Laundromat allowed corrupt politicians and organized crime figures to launder money, evade taxes, hide assets abroad, and commit other financial crimes.

-              The leaks, collected from multiple sources, involved more than $470,000,000,000 made through 1,300,000 transactions to more than 238,000 individuals and companies.


Major International Organizations Working in Investigative Journalism – Cont’d.

ICIJ is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that first launched an Investigation into The Panama Papers: Exposing the Rogue Offshore Finance Industry; A giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposes a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

ICIJ network encompasses 249 trusted investigative journalists from more than 90 countries, and also with more than 100 global media organizations including BBC, New York Times and The Guardian in addition to regional minor no-profit investigation centres.


Wealth of Nations is an award-winning programme run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in collaboration with some of Africa's leading organizations promoting excellence in journalism. In 2017 it won Best Capacity Building Project at the British Expertise International Awards, which recognize outstanding international work done by UK-based organizations.

The programme recognizes that, despite the poverty seen across the continent, Africa is wealthy in natural resources and human capital.

Wealth of Nations aims to form a strong, well-trained, independent media able to investigate and expose the financial manipulations that stop Africa from flourishing.

Forbidden Stories is a non-profit project founded by Freedom Voices Network. They are a network of journalists whose mission is to continue and publish the work of other journalists facing threats, prison, or murder.

Their goal is to keep their stories alive and to make sure a maximum number of people have access to uncensored news on such crucial topics as the environment, health, human rights, or corruption.

By protecting and continuing the work of reporters who can no longer investigate, they can send a powerful signal to enemies of the press: even if you succeed in stopping a single messenger, you will not stop the message.

In March 2018, Forbidden Stories received the “Journalism Project of the Year Grand Prize” at the French Annual Journalism Summit (


The Fund for Investigative Journalism was founded in 1969 by the late Philip M. Stern, a public-spirited philanthropist who devoted his life “to balancing the scales of justice,” in the words of a friend. Stern was convinced small amounts of money invested in the work of determined journalists would yield enormous results in the fight against racism, poverty, corporate greed and governmental corruption. Stern’s theory proved true in the Fund’s first year, when a tiny grant of $250 enabled reporter Seymour Hersh to begin investigating a tip concerning a U.S. Army massacre at the Vietnamese village of My Lai. A subsequent Fund grant of $2,000 allowed Hersh to finish reporting the story.

“Think of it,” Stern later wrote, “a mere $2,250 in Fund grants enabled Seymour Hersh to leverage a whiff into a colossal stink and contribute mightily to the change in how Americans viewed the war in Vietnam.”

Over five decades, the Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to freelance reporters, authors and small publications

ICFJ works at the nexus of journalism and technology, building the expertise and storytelling skills of reporters worldwide. Through our work, journalists are enhancing news coverage and connecting more deeply with their audiences. As a result, we are increasing the flows of reliable, trustworthy news - a cornerstone of healthy democracies.

ICFJ is a non-profit organization that has worked with more than 140,000 journalists from 180 countries.

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