Upgrading from Reporting to Investigative Journalism


14 August 2019, Apia Samoa. Co-Editor of the Samoa Observer Alexander Rheeney shared his experience, knowledge and expertise with members of Samoa’s local media organisation (JAWS) at a workshop held at the Alaimoana Hotel this morning.

The workshop organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as part of the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC) aimed to empower Samoa’s media to highlight anti-corruption and understand what is required for effective ‘investigative journalism’.

With nearly 20 years experience in the media industry Alex Rheeney spoke about key areas of focus when lifting the quality of media from reporting to investigative journalism.

Having worked in Samoa for over 14 months, Rheeney brought a local perspective to the workshop and stressed the need to apply proper planning to Investigative pieces and stories which had a focus on the greater good.

“Always keep in mind that your story could make a difference to the lives of citizens especially the vulnerable”.

“It’s more than the conventional, Who What Where Why and How;

“When we talk about why, it’s more than why – it is also the how, and that is when we start to talk about process.”

“When you talk about the When, it is about the journey in terms of the issue.”

Rheeney talked about key pillars for a journalist to identify and consider when putting a strategy together.

“The process of stakeholder mapping for example is being able to identify, “Who are your key players?””

Rheeney stressed the need to be patient and stay focused on the cause when working on investigative pieces that impact communities.

“At the end of the day in Samoa, it is a very cultured society, so have a Plan B.”

The former President of the PNG Media Council spoke about how he had assisted Transparecy International to compile a report of 20 cases of corruption spanning 10 years from 2007 to 2017.

“In all of those cases the media failed to hold leaders accountable for the outstanding issues simply by failing to do follow-up stories,” said Rheneey.

He encouraged young reporters to be proactive and confident to approach their editors about stories for which they may have leads.

Sina Retzlaff