Journalists write investigative stories to inform citizens about abuses of power. As local TV is American’s preferred news source, television investigations have the potential for great impact.
Jesse Abdenour, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, examined the amount and quality of investigative journalism at local U.S. television stations. The author conducted a survey with 165 journalists and a content analysis of news stories.
Results showed that around half of 80 stations aired at least one investigative-branded story during the study period. Around 22 percent of stories overall were branded as investigative, 18 percent featured the concealed information characteristic, and 30 percent featured the public interest characteristic.
More than two-thirds of branded stories (65 percent) contained concealed information, whereas 59 percent were in the public interest.
Journalists thought investigative quality and quantity were increasing at their stations, and that news outlets were allowing plenty of airtime for “thorough” investigations. Journalists, however, were more pessimistic about investigative time and resources.
The factor of “competition” was most strongly associated with investigative production. Stations produced more investigative branded stories and more true investigative stories even when organizational emphasis on profit persists. These results indicate that managers might be using investigative news to gain a competitive advantage.
The author also found that publicly traded news firms are at least “committed” to investigative journalism, providing evidence that the so-called “corporate menace” is not so menacing.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2S7b51t
Abdenour, J. (2018). Inspecting the investigators: an analysis of television investigative journalism and factors leading to its production. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 95(4), 1058-1078.