This comprehensive guide to investigative techniques provides journalism students and working journalists with practical tips for finding information both on and off the public record in Canada.

Written by a team of award-winning journalists, the text outlines how to develop story ideas, research strategies, pitch stories to editors and producers, and turn raw information into compelling investigative reports for print, radio, and television. Designed to encourage students to think independently and develop sound research techniques, the authors show how journalists can escape the ‘spin cycle’ by deciding for themselves what is newsworthy and finding their own sources of information. Digging Deeper is an indispensable resource for journalism students that will serve as a valuable reference guide throughout both their education and their careers.

Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide, 3rd ed.
(Oxford University Press, 2014)

By Robert Cribb, Dean Jobb, David McKie and Fred Vallance-Jones

Special Features

  • Canadian. The only text of its kind-a unique Canadian focus makes the material relevant and engaging to students in this country.
  • Informative. Introduces students to the surprising array of information available on the public record by accessing government reports, corporate filings, court records, media archives, and other sources.
  • Practical. Offers practical tips on the most effective ways to find and assess information such as criminal records, tax returns, and other official information. Students will also learn how information gleaned from one source can become the key to accessing information from other sources.
  • Case studies. Uses case studies drawn from Canadian media to illustrate the investigative techniques that transform a reporter’s hunch into headline news, giving students real-world examples.
  • Coverage of technology. Demystifies computer-assisted reporting (CAR) and explains how spreadsheets and databases can be used to mine data.
  • New case studies featured at the end of each part introduce students to the real-life scenarios they will encounter as working journalists. Scenarios lead students though the process of researching, interviewing, and writing and include follow-up questions to test student comprehension.
  • In addition to fully updated references, chapter-appendix links, and research, the new edition features more real-life examples and additional coverage of key topics such as fact-checking, ethics, plagiarism, and the CAJ code.

Striking new design enhances readability throughout and features such as lists of data, references, checklists, and tips provides crucial content for students.


Part I: Getting Started
1. An Introduction to Investigative Journalism
What Is Investigative Journalism?
Where Daily Journalism Ends and the Investigation Begins
The Twelve Keys
Skills Exercises
Suggestions for Further Reading

2. The Nuts and Bolts of Investigations
What Makes a Good Investigative Story?
Where Good Ideas Come From
Reviewing and Auditing the Idea
The Heart of the Investigation
Special Situations
Getting Help When You’re Stuck
A Note on Ethics
Skills Exercises
Suggestion for Further Reading
Case Study I: PEI Immigration Project, Student Team, University of King’s College, Halifax

Part II: The Key Primary Resources
3. Building a Foundation: Gathering Information Already Published or Broadcast
Traditional Sources
Electronic Sources
Skills Exercises

4. Using Public Records
Where They Are
What They Say
What They Get
What They Do
Skills Exercises

5. Accessing Laws and Justice System Records
Researching Laws and Regulations
Finding and Using Court Records
Criminal Case Documents
Civil Case Documents
Publication Bans and Other Restrictions on Court Documents
Accessing Other Justice Records
Accessing Court Records in the United States
Putting Justice Records to Work
Suggestions for Further Reading
Skills Exercise

6. Digging into the Past: Using Historical Resources
Historical Reference Tools
Library and Online Resources
Specialized Tools
Using Archives
Suggestions for Further Reading
Skills Exercises

Part III: Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Special Investigations
7. Researching and Finding People
Online Backgrounding
The Public-Records Checklist
Privacy Concerns and Dealing with Confidential Information
Connecting the Dots
Skills Exercises
Case Study: Jim Bronskill on a CBC-CP Joint Investigation of Taser Use

8. Getting People to Talk: The Art of the Interview
The Basic Interview
How to Get People to Talk to You
The Successful Investigative Interview
Recording the Answers
The Dilemma of “Off the Record”
Interviewing Online
Working with Media-Relations People
A Final Note on Media Training
Suggestions for Further Reading
Skills Exercises

9. Following the Money: Seeing the Business Angle in Any Story
Case Study: Nortel Executives Fight Allegations of Cooking the Books
Getting the Numbers
Getting Information from Outside the Company
Suggestions for Further Reading
Skills Exercises

10. Getting Behind Closed Doors: Using the Information Laws
The Laws
How to Make Your Request
The Challenges
What You Can Get
Data Requests
Skills Exercises

11. Data Journalism
The Tools
How the Basic Tools Are Used
Getting Past the Fear of Numbers
What Makes a Good Data Investigation?
Steps in the Development of a Database Investigation
Obtaining Data
Combining Data Journalism with Traditional Reporting
Suggestions for Further Reading
Skills Exercises

Part IV: Putting It All to Work
12. Organizing, Writing, and Libel-Proofing the Investigative Story
Preparing to Write, Right from the Start
Writing the Investigative Story
Writing for Broadcast
Online Storytelling
Libel-Proofing the Story
Suggestions for Further Reading
Case Study: Jeffrey Simpson Investigates Nova Scotia’s Vehicle Safety Inspection System
Skills Exercises
Appendix A: Finance Facts


Praise for Digging Deeper:

“Digging Deeper is specifically geared towards journalists and journalism students in Canada… we appreciate having a guide that our students can use within our own context. It is an excellent resource guide.”
— Karen McCrindle, University of Toronto, Scarborough