Investigating the Investigators: Examining the Attitudes, Perceptions, and Experiences of Investigative Journalists in the Internet Age
Kaplan, Andrew David
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This study examines how ownership type affects newsroom support, job satisfaction, and commitment to field by investigative journalists. It also explores agenda-building theory, asking if journalists' belief in their ability to reform the system through their work is a major predictor of job satisfaction. More broadly, the study examines the state of investigative journalism today by probing the attitudes, perceptions, and experiences of investigative journalists working for newspapers, and how these have changed compared with two decades ago. The study found that ownership type does not seem to affect newsroom support, job satisfaction, or commitment to field. Whether at public, private, or family newspapers, journalists across the board expressed great job satisfaction, fierce devotion to their field, and high levels of support in their own newsrooms, irrespective of ownership type. Regarding agenda-building, most watchdog reporters believe their work has substantial influence on reforming policy. Belief that one's work has significant impact has some predictive value for job satisfaction, but not for commitment to field. Investigative journalists today are more likely to contact policymakers to follow up the impact of their stories than journalists were two decades ago, yet still strongly believe the public plays a crucial role in changing policy--despite most empirical studies casting strong doubts on that. This research project found deep ambivalence about the Internet and its impact on the field. Highly experienced journalists tend to worry about the Internet and its effects on the journalistic process. Considerable skepticism exists among reporters concerning the role nonprofits may play in future investigative journalism. This dissertation uncovered a sharp dichotomy between how journalists view their own newsrooms versus how they view the industry at large. It also found that watchdog reporters today estimate they devote more time to investigative journalism than five years ago. Today's journalists still cite the very same factors that motivated journalists to excel almost 20 years ago.