Five years ago, police forces were given a new tool called the production order. Though it bears some similarities to a search warrant, a production order can compel someone who is not the subject of an investigation to turn over documents and video tape to the police.
When a media outlet is served with a production order, a series of important questions touching on freedom of the press are raised. These can be particularly vexing when it comes to investigative journalism, but the principles involved are important for all types of reporting.
Over the next year, they will report on what they call the "soon to be trillion-dollar carbon trading market."
With climate change such a pressing issue in the world today, this shapes up to be an important and ambitious year-long collaboration.
In both cases, investigative reporters are now fighting for the right to continue protecting the identity of those whistleblowers. The decision rests with the Supreme Court of Canada.
But the federal government is still reluctant to tell Canadians everything they know about the man.
Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill, who knows the Access to Information Act better than most any other journalist in Canada, has tried and so far failed to pry the information loose. He filed an access request in 2005, getting a file that showed the RCMP secretly monitored the former NDP leader's speeches and even eavesdropped on private conversations. But much of the file was blacked out.
Now Canadian Press is taking the federal government to court to force disclosure of hundreds of pages of material they have so far withheld.
A unique website that employs undercover visits and undoctored photography to review hotel rooms.
How many investigative journalists could benefit from some free research support?
Quite a few, judging from the way many media organizations appear to be retreating from this field lately. In Britain, a unique program offers support from students at London's City University journalism department.
Journalists fill out an online application, and if approved, get free research services for up to six months.
This is a model journalism departments in Canada should look at seriously. It provides some real-life experience to students in a way that might be more beneficial than a traditional internship.
The key, though, is having an experienced investigative journalist mentoring the students. Luckily City University has Gavin MacFadyen in that role.
That is why a new non-profit organization called California Watch was founded. Created by the Center for Investigative Reporting, it hired a dozen journalists with the help of foundations and sponsors. This makes it the biggest investigative team in the state.
This week it distributed its first major investigation, a look at waste and mismanagement in the state's homeland security spending. Versions of the story have already run in more than two dozen news organizations.
It's just the latest example of how investigative reporting is migrating from the private to the public sector in the U.S.
Investigative journalism aims to hold powerful institutions of all kinds to account, and it does so with a rigorous search for the truth. Cecil Rosner is managing editor for CBC Manitoba. He teaches investigative journalism at the University of Winnipeg, and is the author of Behind the Headlines: A History of Investigative Journalism in Canada (Oxford University Press).
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