Publication Details

Posetti, J. N. (2013). The ‘twitterisation’ of investigative journalism. In S. J.. Tanner & N. Richardson (Eds.), Journalism Research and Investigation in a Digital World (pp. 88-100). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780195518337


Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the 'social tools' most widely used by journalists in their work, are transforming professional norms and values. The ways journalists engage with these platforms are: challenging notions of objectivity through the convergence of personal and professional lives; propelling the mainstreaming of 'open journalism' models, which promote collaborative research and reportage; and even upending established verification processes. So, what are the implications for investigative journalism? What are the potential benefits of 'social journalism' for research, investigation and verification? How can journalists and news publishers most effectively deploy social media platforms in pursuit of investigative stories? And what are the pitfalls of this brave new world?

This chapter will seek to answer these questions and work towards developing a best-practice approach to social journalism principles in the context of investigative reporting, with an emphasis on the role and impact of Twitter as the tool of choice for most journalists. The data for this chapter is drawn from: online interviews with 25 tweeting journalists conducted in 2009 (Posetti 2009a; 2009b; 2009c); a case study of Twitter and political reporting, based on the 2009 Australian Liberal leadership coup which became known by its hashtag #Spill, 1 featuring interviews with eight Canberra Press Gallery journalists (Posetti 2010b ); the record of journalist working group contributions from the 2011 BBC Social Media Summit (Posetti 2011b), at which the author acted as a facilitator and rapporteur; and a 2012 qualitative survey of 10 social media-active Australian journalists engaged in investigative reporting. The data has been analysed2 with the objective of identifying the risks, pitfalls, strengths, benefits and impacts of social journalism specific to research, source identification, investigation and verification-the hallmarks of traditional investigative journalism practice.