Muckrakers

Yong Jin Kim: Nonprofit Investigative Journalism Is the Answer

Interview with the investigative journalist Yong Jin Kim of South Korea

Around the turn of the millennium, Yong Jin Kim organized and led the first investigative unit in Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), the country's public media broadcaster and the biggest media group in South Korea. In 2013, frustrated by the constant need to fight the muzzles put on investigative journalism in mainstream news media, Mr Kim co-founded the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism (KCIJ), an independent outfit specializing in investigative reporting. He is now KCIJ’s editor-in-chief.
 
Mr Kim’s investigations mainly cover topics related to human rights, criminal justice, media and foreign affairs. One of the stories of which he is most proud is an investigation into how the Korean intelligence agency NIS helped big corporations to prevent people involved in trade unions from getting jobs. NIS is one of the most powerful spy agencies in South Korea, and, since 2013, KCIJ has followed how the agency has abused its power. Kim’s investigation uncovered the involvement of the agency in the 2012 presidential election, when NIS tried to influence public opinion through social media.
 

Bopha Phorn: I Love Chasing Hidden Information

Interview with Bopha Phorn, Cambodian investigative journalist
 
Bopha Phorn is a stringer for the Voice of America (VoA) Khmer language service and a part-time lecturer in media and communication at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city. Ms Phorn received the Courage In Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) for her report on rampant illegal logging in her country. Whilst investigating the story, she was shot at by the military police.
 

Marcela Turati: Expose the Hidden Interests of Big Media Companies

Interview with award-winning investigative journalist Marcela Turati, Marcela Turati is an investigative journalist who specializes in covering the impact of Mexican drug war on society.
 
Marcela Turati also has experience in human rights activism, and she reports on poverty and marginalized groups. She has been vocal against the murders and exile of journalists in Mexico. Ms Turati works for Proceso, a leading news weekly in Mexico. She co-founded Periodistas de a Pie (Journalists on Foot), an outfit dedicated to training journalists to improve the quality of their journalism and to defend freedom of expression.
 

Helena Bengtsson: Bringing People Back to Facts, Our Biggest Challenge

Interview with Helena Bengtsson of the Guardian in Britain, previously the database editor at Sveriges Television, Sweden’s national television broadcaster.
 
Helena Bengtsson is the editor of data projects at the Guardian newspaper in London, United Kingdom. She previously worked as the database editor at Sveriges Television, Sweden’s national television broadcaster. In 2006 and 2007, she was the database editor at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. She has been awarded the Stora Journalistpriset (Great Journalism Award) in Sweden twice, in 2010 for Valpejl.se and in 2016 for Innovator of the Year.
 

Paul Myers: News Organizations Should Not Be Intimidated

Interview with BBC's Paul Myers
 
Paul Myers joined the BBC in 1995 as an information researcher. In time, with the growing significance of the internet, Mr Myers blended his technical knowledge with journalism. He has devised innovative strategies that have led researchers to evidence they would never have otherwise found. Today, Mr Myers heads up BBC Academy’s Investigation Support project. In the past, he has worked with leading BBC programs such as Panorama, Watchdog, Inside Out, BBC News and the BBC World Service.
 

Tamas Bodoky: Readers Pay for Our Investigative Journalism

Interview with Hungarian-born Tamas Bodoky, a Budapest-based investigative journalist and editor leading Atlatszo.hu. Co-founded back in 2011 by Mr Bodoky, Atlatszo is a watchdog NGO and investigative journalism center whose mission is to promote transparency and freedom of information in Hungary.
 
Besides investigative reports, Atlatszo (which means “transparent” in Hungarian) has built a reputation for being open to whistleblowers and for regularly filing freedom of information requests. If those requests are refused, it takes public authorities to court.
 
Atlatszo.hu operates a Tor-based anonymous whistleblowing platform (Magyarleaks) and a freedom of information request generator to be used by the general public (Kimittud). Through the Kimittud, over 5,000 freedom of information requests were filed in the past three years in Hungary. Atlatszo.hu also provides a blogging platform for other NGOs and independent media. Atlatszo.hu has received a spate of prestigious prizes in the past five years.
 
Mr Bodoky has been a journalist for two decades now, his previous stints including work at Index.hu and Magyar Narancs weekly. He was awarded a sheaf of prizes for journalistic excellence in his career.
 

Catalin Tolontan: How a Romanian Sports Reporter Turned Into a Bold and Audacious Muckraker

For Romanian-born Catalin Tolontan, the principle that has guided his journalistic work for the past 15 years has been to not  fear those about whom he is writing.
 
Nonetheless, when carrying out investigations, he doesn’t believe in individual courage, but rather in team tenacity. Mr Tolontan is one of the best-known sports journalists in Romania. He heads the Gazeta Sporturilor daily, and his investigations are published in the newspaper’s print and online editions as well as on his blog Tolo.ro. They have so far had a major impact in Romania, attracting the ire of both politicians and authorities.
 
One of Mr Tolontan’s latest investigations was a story about how hospitals illegally dilute disinfectants in Romania that he began to work on in spring 2016. The investigation led to the resignation of the country’s health minister. Known as the Hexi Pharma file, the case prompted the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) as well as the General Prosecutor’s Office to launch two lawsuits.
 

Paul Radu: Journalists Must Uncover the Media’s Masters

Interview with Paul Radu of Romania
 
Romanian-born investigative journalist Paul Radu manages the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and is co-creator of the Investigative Dashboard concept and of the RISE Project, a new platform for investigative reporters and hackers in Romania.
Mr Radu has been awarded several fellowships, including the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship in 2001, the Milena Jesenska Press Fellowship in 2002 and the 2008 Knight International Journalism fellowship with the International Center for Journalists. In 2009-2010, he was a Stanford Knight Journalism Fellowship.
Mr Radu has also received numerous awards for his investigative work, including the Knight International Journalism Award in 2004, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting in 2011 and the 2015 European Press Prize.
He wrote about the theft of US$1bn from three Moldovan banks back in 2014, disputes over a number of murky deals involving purchase of forests in Romania, and the wealth of Russian cellist Sergei Roldugin, a close friend of president Vladimir Putin. Now, Mr Radu is working on several cross-border investigations into money laundering.
 
Q: How did you become interested in covering corruption?
Paul Radu: When digging deep into wrongdoing, investigative reporters will inevitably come across corruption. The fabric of wrongdoing is made of corruption acts, so I realized this is what I need to investigate to inform the public.
 

Jessikka Aro: It’s Crucial That Journalists Become Watchdogs Once Again

Jessikka Aro is an investigative reporter with YLE Kioski, the social media forum run by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Aro specializes in Russia, information warfare, security and extremism.
Back in 2014, she started a crowdsourced investigation of pro-Russia info war trolls and a St. Petersburg troll factory. She then became the target of serious harassment by pro-Kremlin propagandists. Now, she is working on a brand new investigative book on the information warfare waged by the Putin regime.
 
Q: How did you become interested in covering media and power, in your case Russian propaganda?
Jessikka Aro: As a child I was already interested in Russia and Soviet Union because my grandmother told me about her experiences of having to evacuate herself from her home in Karelia, when the Soviet Union started to occupy Finland in her youth. Later, I befriended people who had lived in the Soviet Union, not so far from Finland, and [saw] how their society had been totally different from Western society.
I found their stories extremely interesting - as well as a bit scary - so I started to study Russian and study more about Finland’s big neighbor.