“Why we need investigative journalism” was a key question in my mind when I left for the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Conference held in San Francisco, Calif. More than 1,600 investigative journalists from over 40 countries attended and all were in firm belief that investigative reporting could expose flaws in the ‘conventional wisdom’ which takes nations in a dangerous direction.
After a brief interaction with participants, I told them about journalists working in Pakistan. I shed light on these challenges — lack of training, capacity building, legal regime, ethics, lack of whistleblower and witness protection. Perhaps, the most rewarding part of the job, exposing the truth, is a troubling challenge for Pakistani journalists.
After listening to me, my friends Brant Houston and David Kaplan of Global Investigative Journalism Network opined that access to information laws should be institutionalised in every country.
Being a member of the IRE, I learnt at a meeting that Americans were spending millions of dollars on quality journalism, surpassing Germany and United Kingdom, who produced more trained journalists till a decade ago. This is the difference between my journalism environment and American one. In the US, media leaders believe that investigative journalism cannot survive without applying the latest technology, but unfortunately Pakistan has limited resources to use this latest technology.
At the conference, many also asked me why press freedom is constantly under threat in Pakistan. Journalists in Pakistan face the detriment of a lack of finances and poor security. In the US, every second journalist seems to be writing a book based on his or her experiences while very few Pakistani journalists do this. The reason is obvious — limited resources for quality work.
In a nutshell, what I’ll be taking back to Pakistan from the IRE conference is courage to face threats with the elite of society but working within the law using ethical methods for getting information for public. In my opinion, investigative journalism is also vital for our democracy to flourish. Press freedom is already in danger.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.