Investigative reporting is a special form of journalism in which the reporter attempts to unearth a set of facts that would otherwise be inaccessible to the public. Often these facts are hidden by a lack of transparency in government, corporate entities and other institutions; by official indifference; or by a deliberate cover-up. Where the subject of investigation is of real public interest, the story may have a major impact.
Either singly or in teams, depending on the nature of the medium in which they are working, all students undertake a project of this type. The subject can be almost any problem that affects a significant number of people, for example the prevalence of child labour or trade in human organs or corruption or professional malpractice. Under the guidance of professionals, students learn how to undertake an investigation — searching public records, interviewing experts and persons directly affected, evaluating sources, weighing evidence, verifying facts, and presenting their findings fairly and persuasively. In all cases, the investigation must take up issues of significance and come up with specifics, as distinct from a description of a general phenomenon or practice. Sting, the module emphasises, is the last resort of a conscientious journalist.