Can investigative journalism survive? The resounding answer to this question was yes, both from the panelists and substantial audience at the event of this title run by the London Press Club at London’s Stationer’s Hall last night.
Broadcaster Andrew Neil conducted a panel discussion with biographer Tom Bower, Telegraph senior reporter Andrew Gilligan, Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, journalist and academic Heather Brooke and The Independent’s investigations reporter Tom Harper. It was billed as a debate, but there was little actual debate, with most agreeing that the threats to investigative journalism came from the libel law, increasing state control and funding. Despite these challenges the consensus was that investigative journalism would survive.
Brooke was the most cautious about the survival of investigative journalism and made the strongest stance against funding issues as a major barrier. She claimed that if readers want good investigative journalism then they will have to pay for it. Rusbridger argued that despite funding challenges investment in investigative journalism is a sound commercial move for publishers and there are signs that even pure-play digital media outlets are investing in it.
It was a stimulating event, as London Press Club events often are, but it would have benefited greatly from participation on the panel from someone from what Rusbridger called the ‘new world’ of media – blogs and digital-only media startups. They would have given a welcome and fresh perspective on future funding for investigative journalism, unshackled from the Fourth Estate’s obsession with cover-price.