According to an investigative journalism summit held in London, factual information is under attack in an increasingly investigative-starved world.
The Sir Harry Evans summit brought together leading investigative journalists and editors who called for more truth.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the men who uncovered the Watergate scandal, said serious journalism was essential.
“We have a different audience than we had then,” Bernstein said. “Many of our readers and viewers are looking for information to reinforce what they already believe. They are not open to the best possible version of the truth.”
The late Harry Evans was a British-American journalist and editor of the Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981. He defended investigative reporting, saying: “Things are not what they appear on the surface. Dig deeper deep, dig deeper, dig deeper.”
The summit took place on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of Shireen Abu Aklehan American-Palestinian journalist killed while covering a report in the occupied West Bank.
In the days following his death, it was investigative journalism that uncovered what had happened. Journalists geotagged the location where she was killed, reviewed metadata from images of the scene and cross-checked official statements for inconsistencies.
“We never would have known the truth about what happened if reporters hadn’t dug deep,” said Dean Baquet, former editor of The New York Times.
“Whenever true things don’t emerge, whenever there’s darkness, whenever facts are submerged, those things put a bit of a dent in the honor of society. The role of journalists is to restore that,” Mr Baquet told Sky News. .
London-based research group Forensic Architecture has found evidence that the Israeli military targeted Abu Akleh with the intent to kill.
“The official picture of what happened very quickly began to crumble,” said Robert Trafford, deputy director of Forensic Architecture.
“We were able to go much further in our investigation precisely thanks to the architectural techniques in our toolbox, so we were able to contribute to a new collapse of this story.”
A year after Abu Akleh’s death, no one has been held accountable.
An Israeli military investigation into her death concluded there was a ‘strong possibility’ that one of its soldiers ‘accidentally’ fired the fatal shot, but said it was also possible that she was killed by a Palestinian activist.
The Israeli army said it regretted any harm caused to civilians.
“Israel has managed to get away with these bogus investigations for decades,” said Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
Speaking from Jerusalem, El-Ad told Sky News “This is the game plan. This is the usual way Israel whitewashes these crimes against the Palestinians.”