Career Level: Mid-level
What Do They Do?
Investigative Journalists are a rare breed in radio – they are broadcast journalists who are specifically tasked with peeling back the immediately visible layer of a story to find out what’s really going on. There are only a few programmes that employ Investigative Journalists – mostly on news programmes or speech radio networks, like BBC Radio 4.
Investigative Journalists work on a story-by-story basis, and so the daily tasks associated with their job will change depending on where in the investigative cycle they are. Broadly speaking, an Investigative Journalist will be expected to:
- Keep across the news agenda to identify any potential stories
- Build relationships with people who may offer sources of information
- Liaise with the producer and programme team about current and future investigations
- Search public records and company accounts to identify discrepancies or falsehoods
- Go undercover in organisations to get to the root of the story
- Write their own scripts
- Attend studio sessions
- Promote the results of their investigations on other platforms, such as in print or on social media
Who Do They Work With?
- The most important relationships an Investigative Journalist will ever have is with their sources. These are people who hold information crucial to an investigation. They may be whistleblowers within an organisation, and the Investigative Journalist’s role is to build a rapport with this individual and work with them to bring the story to light.
- On a day-to-day basis, and Investigative Journalist will liaise with the programme Producer or Editor to discuss their on-going investigations, and when certain stories are likely to make it to air.
- Depending on the station and programme, an Investigative Journalist’s may also be supported in their work by an Assistant Producer, Broadcast Assistant, Production Management Assistant, or Team Assistant.
What Skills Do I Need?
- Investigative Journalists are intensely curious, with a strong desire to know the truth. They are determined to get to the heart of a story.
- Investigative Journalists must stay calm under pressure – particularly undercover when unexpected things can happen.
- Investigative Journalists need strong interpersonal skills, as they need to build relationships with sources.
- Investigative Journalists need to be confident communicators with strong writing skills, as they write their own scripts.
- Investigative Journalists need to be technically confident in a studio, and with remote recording equipment.
How Do I Get This Job?
Investigative Journalists will usually hold a degree in journalism, and often have a degree in another subject or a postgraduate degree. They will likely have worked as a broadcast journalist for some years before specialising as an Investigative Journalist. This is a highly sought after role, with only a few positions available.