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Invest in investigative journalism. It pays dividends

Katharine Viner

For decades, Guardian investigations have galvanised progress by exposing things that are wrong in our world. Now we need your support

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Decades of Guardian investigations have produced stories that changed the world Illustration: Guardian Design
Decades of Guardian investigations have produced stories that changed the world Illustration: Guardian Design

Last modified on Wed 13 Oct 2021 17.04 BST

Power is becoming more powerful.

Democracy is at risk in many parts of the world. Autocracy is back in vogue. Unprecedented wealth is accumulating in ever fewer hands. Trillions have gone missing offshore. Even in mature democracies, the restraint on power is often alarmingly feeble.

And so it is vital for anyone who has the means, to do what they can to keep the powerful honest, and the honest powerful. Our investigative journalists, brave, patient, sensitive and tough, have repeatedly done this over the years. Think of Windrush, Snowden, Cambridge Analytica, the Panama and Pandora papers and Pegasus. Think of the Guardian’s work on the gig economy, sexual harassment, Covid-19 and spy cops. Think of World Cup slaves, the Polluters, the Xinjiang camps, and the Counted.

This is the lifeblood of the Guardian. It shows where society is going wrong, and gives us a chance to put things right. It scrutinises power and identifies those who are serving the people, and those who are serving themselves. It holds those in authority to higher standards. It keeps tabs on the use - and abuse - of technology, which must exist in service of people and not the other way round. It highlights the unfairness and inequality of the world, and demands redress.

Guardian investigative journalism has been used in court cases and congressional hearings, parliamentary inquiries, police prosecutions. And yes - it has brought down cabinet ministers and captains of industry when they have been shown to have fallen short of the standards of office.

This week, we are asking for as many people as possible to support the Guardian so we can intensify what we do in our investigations. Whether you make a contribution or take out a subscription, you can be assured of investing in an experienced, independent, relentless newsroom. It’s an investment that pays dividends in the form of corruption exposed, oppression revealed, incompetence rumbled. In short, we highlight things that are wrong so society can start putting them right. For a modest sum, you can have a big impact.

Obsessive, illuminating, high-stakes: why investigative journalism matters - video
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Obsessive, illuminating, high-stakes: why investigative journalism matters - video

We’ve already channelled formidable resources into the Guardian’s investigative team because we wanted to build on its reputation for long, difficult, legally fraught investigations such as the Edward Snowden revelations and the phone hacking scandal.

In recent years, we have followed this award-winning journalism with a succession of momentous pieces of work that brought about major change. Global collaborative investigations into offshore wealth (the Panama, Paradise and, this week, the Pandora papers) have exposed greed in high places and helped recover hundreds of millions for taxpayers. The Windrush project restored the right to settled status for a generation of maligned immigrants. The Cambridge Analytica files galvanised a global data privacy movement and put Mark Zuckerberg before a joint US Senate committee. Our gig economy exposés have brought about greater protection for workers.

Our investigative techniques have become more sophisticated, as we rely on technical experts to help us sift through huge volumes of leaked documents, and set up encrypted environments for us to communicate with each other - not so much cloak and dagger as code and database.

There can be great jeopardy in this work, publishing things that powerful people do not want published. Our reporters are robust but even they find it stressful when letters threatening to sue land on our doorstep. The people we write about have far deeper pockets than we do. London is a litigant’s dream. The playing field, never level, now slopes even more steeply against campaigners and investigative journalists.

But we know how important it is to invest time, money, courage and energy in our investigative work. Again and again, it results in journalism that matters, journalism that is accessible to every reader regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. We persevere because we know that investigative journalism is an essential part of our democracy, a vital catalyst for progress in our troubled world.


Help us keep power honest. Support the Guardian