Quote of the week

In “The Old Regime and the Revolution”… Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, in the decades leading up to the Revolution, France had been notably prosperous and progressive. We hear a lot about the hunger and the song of angry men, and yet the truth is that, objectively, the French at the start of the seventeen-eighties had less cause for anger than they’d had in years. Tocqueville thought it wasn’t a coincidence. “Evils which are patiently endured when they seem inevitable, become intolerable when once the idea of escape from them is suggested,” he wrote.

Nathan Heller
The New Yorker
14 January 2013

Yet there has been very little reflection on the weaknesses of investigative journalism as it’s currently practiced. All too often, investigative journalism tends to focus on elite (mis)conduct, failing to recognise that the power dynamics at grassroots level should constitute the stuff of investigative journalism too. Investigative stories are often confined to the major urban areas. Many journalists have been overly reliant on a narrow range of sources, especially leaks and tip-offs from disgruntled political figures, to break stories. Many of these stories are passed for investigative journalism, but in fact are not. Leaks and tip off-driven journalism can make journalists lazy, discouraging proactive investigation and making them susceptible to manipulation by hidden political agendas. At a deeper level, it can reinforce the tendency for news agendas to be set on a top-down basis. – Jane Duncan at SACSIS

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