It is time that Arab media focused on investigative journalism


The 1972 Watergate scandal created some of the biggest buzz in the world. Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, was involved in the scandal that was discovered by American reporter Bob Woodward who transformed investigative journalism and laid the foundation for the freedom of the press seen today in the US. The ceiling of liberty for journalists in the US and Europe is higher than the one allowed for journalists in the Middle East or the Third World, as Westerners describe it.

We must admit that investigative journalism has not for the past years been practiced here in the way it has in the US and Europe due to several obstacles. However, the current situation requires a new form of investigative journalism that is different.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most prominent Middle Eastern country and an active player on the global scene, especially with regard to the recently launched government campaign against corruption. Since media is a strategic partner when it comes to social reform, I think it is high time that Arab and Saudi journalists focused on investigative journalism, which can uncover scandals, promote justice and combat corruption.

In today’s age of social media, every citizen is a journalist in the virtual world. It is easy these days to get access to information, although it must be remembered that not all information is accurate. Some citizens have, through social media websites, practiced investigative journalism but in an unprofessional way. However, they should be praised for taking this step which many journalists have not taken although they studied investigative journalism at media institutes and colleges and know how to practice professionally.

The question is: To what degree are newspapers prepared to train reporters on how to practice this type of journalism which requires highly specialized skills as well as intensive training courses by experienced journalists?

Numerous nonprofit press organizations work to promote investigative journalism and help journalists get into this field. The Global Investigative Journalism Network is an example. It provides information in several languages including Arabic and acts as a reference to anyone who is interested in this field. It helps anyone who is interested learn the skills of research and investigation and how to find sources and scrutinize facts.

Khadija Habib