Co-author Beth Herst and I have just published a new article about investigative journalism films in the journal Journalism Practice. The article is titled “Beyond ‘Woodstein’: Narratives of Investigative Journalism.” We identify 14 recurring structural and formal elements of a fable about investigative journalism and use the fable to analyze six diverse films produced in the last 40 years. The films include two instantiations of successful investigative journalism (All the President’s Men, Spotlight), two cases where conflict between journalists and corporate managers diminished the impact of the investigation (Good Night and Good Luck, The Insider), and two instances of a counter-fable of failed investigative journalism (Truth, Kill the Messenger). The paper argues that the films’ representation of investigative journalism influences public perceptions of it. The article also speculates about the factors that will influence investigative journalism and its representations in the current political context in the US.
The article is an outgrowth of my teaching of Narrative and Management as I have used one or another of the first four films at some point in my course. The book Beth and I published last year, Negotiating Business Narratives, discussed three major industries (IT, auto manufacturing, financial trading) so investigative journalism was too narrow for inclusion. A journal article is the appropriate context.
The article is behind a paywall. For those who have access to academic journals through a university library, the DOI is 10.1080/17512786.2019.1664927. Readers of this blog who do not have access can email me directly, and I will send you a PDF of the complete article at no charge.