JAKARTA, JARING.id - Investigative coverage is like a puzzle or a jigsaw puzzle. Puzzle requires a method for concatenating random images into one large image. Investigations also use a similar method: how to unify issues and make them systematic, funding, techniques and resources in gathering investigative work.
For that we need a plan, in the form of practical steps that remain flexible and include steps to access information that supports the investigation. Planning allows us to edit the flow of coverage, see funding opportunities, identify possible problems and identify how to achieve key objectives.
Several key questions can be applied to ensure that the focus of the coverage is maintained throughout the assignment. The following is a summary contained in the book A Watchdog's Guide to Investigative Reporting Derek Forbes published by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
What is the topic and reason for coverage?
A clear focus ensures that readers understand the purpose and outcome of the investigation. Choose a topic or area that can be explored deeper and has investigative value. Then develop a theory or hypothesis that will be tested against the facts of the case.
Write down your hypothesis or theory
This hypothesis should be a fence and barrier in order to avoid traveling wasting time, money and energy. But remember, you also need to be flexible enough to let new ideas or contradictory information lead to a fresher direction.
Consider important values
Strong reasons for investigating can be gathered by considering the values that underpin a good investigative story. Try asking yourself the following questions; Is it related to the public interest? Who benefits from this story? Is my thesis possible? Is the topic part of the investigation priorities? What hidden truths will be revealed? What moral value does the story reveal? Will this story challenge powerful people to be accountable to the public, taxpayers, voters or consumers? Will the story contain behavior that is unacceptable to society? Does the story reveal the failure of a system that the public is not aware of? For example, police corruption, government corruption, business nepotism, insurance fraud and others. Are public figures or decision makers transparent? Has someone spoken about the same story or problem before?
What research is done to obtain witnesses and supporting evidence
Investigative reporting includes finding material evidence in the form of documents or eye witnesses to build a story. The best planning is when the search starts with details, such as putting together a puzzle starting from an angle, then moving to the center to get the big picture.
Second, who are the actors in the investigation and what is their relationship to each other. Draw a diagram or organogram to describe all the cast and their potential and their share in the story (seller / buyer, successor / founder, friend / foe, loser / winner). Consider the main players. It could be that their relationship with each other helps you find an approach how to get the information needed.
Third, what information is needed to prove the thesis. Prepare important questions and lists of experts or authorized sources, eye witnesses, recordings. Sources can be divided into two, primary sources such as people in the main circle and secondary sources which are generally not directly related to the issue but reflect or analyze it.
Always remember not to claim before verification. The mistake of not only bringing journalists to justice, it also damages the credibility of the media.
What investigative methods will be used and what are the legal or ethical implications?
Three basic methods of gathering information through interviews, observation and document analysis. The fourth method, suvrei, is usually used in social investigations. The impact of the method must be considered in planning. For example, whether to do wiretapping or undercover.
This stage weighs and compares evidence, statements, raw data and statistics. It could also be that your hypothesis is revised or new story ideas emerge.
What are the barriers to publishing a story?
Tales, threats, the rule of law, no access to nonpublic documents like someone's account statements. If formal channels are not possible, informal channels may be needed. List possible solutions.
How the story is packaged and presented to readers, including how it is presented in words, pictures or sounds. [Deborah B Sinambela]