In 1890, the journalist Nellie Bly succeeded doing a trip around the world in 72 days, overcoming the challenge proposed by the French writer Jules Verne in his book “Around the World in 80 days”. At that age, she was considered as the pioneer woman at investigative journalism, because of actions like this. In this reportage, we analyse the differences between investigative journalism and informative journalism. And to know more about it, we have interviewed two professionals, Clara Manzano and Raul Gratacós, redactors in the newspaper Lanza in Ciudad Real.
Elizabeth Jane Cochran (1864-1922) better known by the pseudonym Nellie Bly was a journalist, writer, and American businesswoman. She was the first woman working as an investigative journalist and a pioneer in infiltrative journalism. She received the National Women’s Hall of Fame award in 1998.
In 1872 Jules Verne published his book Around the world in 80 days. At that moment, Nellie worked for the New York Evening Journal as a columnist, and her idea was to be faster than Phileas Fogg, the famous Verne’s character. Her aim was to demonstrate that a trip around the world could be completed, overcoming the 80 days record in the famous novel. So she started with the demonstration and it was herself who did the trip.
So in 1889, she began her trip alone, passing through England, France where she visited J.Verne himself, Japan, China, from Hong Kong to Brindisi, then Colombo, and finally San Francisco. She needed exactly 72 days, 6 hours, and 5 minutes for her tour. And the challenge was completed!
Inspired by this adventurous women’s feat, we have asked ourselves lots of things about journalism. Each day, we read or learn lots of information from social media. We have spoken about that with two journalists, Clara Manzano and Raul Gratacós, who both work at the Ciudad Real’s newspaper Lanza. As Clara Manzano said, more than 90% is informative journalism and only a little part is investigative journalism. Clara has told us that recently, the Pandora Papers have been published, an example of this kind of journalism. It’s about a periodistic investigation about the tax avoidance in fiscal paradises where lots of important people and all kinds of public figures are implicated and they can be accused of corruption. 600 national and international journalists from the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) have participated in the investigation of the Pandora Papers and it was El País that has published the scoop in Spain.
As we can see, the difference between investigative and informative journalism is above all that the process is much longer and more difficult in the first case. According to Raúl, to make informative journalism we need well experienced journalists in its domain and important financial resources because the work can extend for several years. It’s also necessary a well reputed information media for maintaining the discoveries and searches as it is the case of El Pais with the Pandora Papers.
Raúl has also talked about the techniques an investigative journalist uses: The texts from an informative journalist are based on an identified source, while an investigative text is based on different types of sources. The most important difference is, according to Raúl, that the investigative texts produce social or political crises, and then, people who are implicated will do all they can do to avoid the texts being published.
Our interviewed journalists have insisted about the importance of the reader or receiver role, in other words, our role. Nowadays it’s difficult to interpret which news is true and which ones are falses. For example, this was the case of the post-truth from the American administration with Donald Trump as president from the USA. He has also added that the big quantity of information and the platforms where we receive them, it’s so much that our role as critic readers is endangered. But he has also affirmed that the future of investigative journalism is assured thanks to this new technological press.
We would like to finish this reportage with a reflexion from Clara all from the beginning of this interview: the investigative journalism is the ideal to accomplish for all journalist, that’s their main task. You need to have a nose for tracking investigation marks and to find out the truth for the great public and to serve society.
Most of the journalists would like to do this kind of interesting and passionate journalism. Therefore we need tenacity, perseverance, and courage, just as Nelly Bly showed it with her Trip around the World in 72 days. / Nazaret Abenójar, Alba Dondarza, Alma Valdelomar, Jorge Barba, Daniel Tapiador/
The original article is published in the school digital newspaper Calatrava Times.