Academic journal article Journalism History

The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism

Article excerpt

Aucoin, James L. The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005. 242 pp. $37.50.

If Aucoin's book was a novel, the action would rise with the 1976 murder of investigative journalist Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic, ironically within days of the first national conference of an organization that he helped found. At the news of his death, these fellow investigative journalists sprang to action and continued his work at unearthing the relationships between organized crime and Arizona public officials. It was a remarkable example of journalistic cooperation that has never been repeated.

But Aucoin's work is not fiction. It is history.

At the heart of The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism, its protagonist if you will, is an organization familiar to many in the field but one that has received relatively little scholarly attention-Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). While many have examined the history of investigative reporting, either through systematic analysis or anecdotal "war stories" by great practitioners, Aucoin's effort is both fruitful and relevant. He focuses on UlE, a story that deserves more attention for the organization's importance to the craft of journalism and to complete the historical record. To do this, he delves deeply into IRE's primary source material to give the reader a sense of those troubled early days of the organization. While his failure to cite a 1997 American Journalism article on the same topic is unfortunate, his book provides a more comprehensive story than has been told before and makes one willing to forgive this lapse. In addition, Aucoin discusses a philosophical perspective that explains why such organizations are vital to any field, and in particular to journalism.

Before continuing, in the spirit of full disclosure before the committee, I must admit that yes, senator, I am a card-carrying member of IRE. …

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