Particularly during times when politics are at a fever pitch, the desire to do some investigative journalism or blogging is going to hit some segment of the internet population at large. And thanks to open communication structures and new technology, anybody can do it. Anyone with an itch can investigate and post.
However, if you want that writing to actually have a degree of quality, there are definitely certain steps that you can follow to help keep you focused, including considering things from a public relations angle, not editorializing, linking to valid sources, using a hard news writing style, and being prepared to defend your work if you do publish it.
Consider the Public Relations Angle
There are entire companies that specialize in communication and PR with respect to government investigations, so if you want an example of how they present themselves both to the public and to clients, you can visit their websites, their offices, or where they’ve set up shop in order to talk to them face to face. Public relations writing is almost a mirror of investigative reporting in terms of balancing out information and protecting interests, so it’s definitely in your best interest to see how it works, especially from a damage control angle.
One of the worst thing that you can include in your writing, whether it’s for a newspaper or your own publication, is editorialized statements that you present as fact. That’s the sign of an amateur and a great way to lose trust from all different spectrums of readers or otherwise would-be supporters. You can see daily examples of editorializing coming from internet publications, and the comments that result all nearly all extremely negative, so avoid that behavior whenever possible.
Link To Valid Sources
Another sore spot to many investigative reports is the fact that sources are cited, or bad sources are referenced. Remember, just as anyone can write investigation reports, anyone can publish hype writing on the web as well, which is why so many people are dubious of information flow anymore.
Use a Hard News Format
If you’ve never written a hard news article, you may not be aware of the top down approach that is important to follow. Especially with investigative type stuff, the most important information is always at the top, and the details follow either chronologically or in order to value. Stray from this, and you lose readership.
Be Prepared To Defend Your Publications
And finally, if you’re going to put any sort of negative information out there about a person or company, then you’re going to have to plan on being able to defend it if someone comes after you for defamation. It’s important to understand defamation and libel laws before you get embroiled in a legal battle simply for posting your thoughts.