Investigative journalism aims to get beneath the surface of a story to expose hidden facts. Investigative journalists are often also confronted by two mutually exclusive versions of an event. In such a situation one party is not telling the truth.
Journalists must also carefully frame their questions when interviewing a principal in a story so that they are able to present readers with sufficient information in which to draw conclusions about allegations or issues.
In all of the above, reporters can benefit from some of the skills and insights of cross-examination. FAIR’s new 2 day course, Cross-Examination for Investigative Reporters will equip delegates with an understanding, derived from litigation, of what makes for a believable story.
In so doing, the course also provides a methodology and structure for exposing falsehood in interviews. An understanding of the techniques of cross-examination will allow reporters to sharpen lines of enquiry, to become more forensic and analytical in assessing the merits of their story.
The course is highly interactive, with role-plays, video-clips, group work and debate. It is facilitated by an experienced trainer, Heinrich Böhmke, director at the Specialised Skills Institute of SA. He is also an investigator and litigator with experience in prosecuting public sector corruption, misrepresentation and sexual misconduct matters.
The course is suitable for journalists starting out along the path of investigative journalism but also for ‘old-hands’ who wish to hone their skills and learn a few new tricks.
FAIR is pleased to launch the first cross examination course in Johannesburg, South Africa, during 9-10 September 2013, in association with the Institute for Advancement of Journalism, IAJ.
We plan to conduct other regional sessions across the continent during 2013 and 2014, thanks to support from SIDA and other partners. Updates on future training events will be shared on the FAIR website, www.fairreporters.org.