This will be the definitive reference on the history and development of investigative journalism. Although the term “investigative reporting” seems standard in today’s discourse about journalism, it did not become an identifiable practice until the 1960s. Before then, objective, reform-minded journalists who researched in depth, basing what they published on the highest evidence possible, were rare indeed.
Ida Tarbell (1857-1944) set the standard with his expose of the Standard Oil Company and John D. Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine. But before Tarbell and for six decades after her expose in 1904, the number of actual investigative reporters could be counted on one hand.
During the 1960s, government and private sector misdeeds became so egregious and so much easier to find than previously because of advances in technology that journalistic exposes began to proliferate. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable began an admirable motto.
Steve Weinberg’s book will evolve along two tracks. One of those tracks will trace the growth of investigative reporting by U.S. journalists working for newspapers, magazines, television stations/networks, radio stations/networks and book publishers.The other track will offer a compelling narrative of one investigative team that over 10 years blew the lid of an incompetent, venal criminal justice system to help free innocent inmates and initiate the death knell for the death penalty in Illinois and then in state after state outside Illinois.
Weinberg personally experienced the growth of investigative reporting, starting his career in 1969. He eventually served as executive director of a membership organization called Investigative Reporters and Editors, which itself helped educate some of the best practitioners.