New Internationalist

Tell Me No Lies: Investigative journalism and its triumphs

March 2006

Does investigative journalism make a difference? Embedded as we invariably are in a swamp of deceit, it is easy to think not. So 600 pages of even the most uplifting of ‘investigative’ reporting look weighty enough to drag down all but the most buoyant of readers.

Don’t be misled. John Pilger has mined a collection of gems. Among the brightest – Martha Gellhorn in Dachau, Amira Hass in the Gaza Strip, Anna Politkovskaya in Chechnya, Felicity Arbuthnot and Jo Wilding in Iraq – are brilliant words by women of great courage. One is left in wonder less by how much of it there is than by the craving for more.

The leitmotif of this disparate collection comes from James Cameron. In North Vietnam during the worst of that most terrible of wars, he wrote: ‘Once you turn all the political value judgements into terms of people, they become both simpler and more difficult.’ However elaborate or powerful the deceit, however intricate or laborious its exposure, the point invariably comes back to this. Sample the book, try imagining a world without it, and only then think to ask what difference it makes.

David Ransom

This column was published in the March 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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