Investigative reporting works. Investigative reporting works as a key tool to unearth exclusive news and features for readers. It works as a boost to morale of the writing team. It works as a sales tool.
Horse & Hound, the weekly bible of the equestrian world, has launched an investigative journalism campaign. The first fruits of this campaign are in the May 27th edition.
The head of news Abi Butcher and the deputy news editor Charlotte White dug deep into the scandal of Spindles Farm. James Gray, the owner, had allowed 111 horses to suffer and 31 to die.
Gray absconded from court on May 12 and H&H’s investigators set off in pursuit. For a week Butcher and White dug deep.
They interviewed neighbours, the RSPCA, Buckinghamshire Trading Standards Authority, other horse dealers, the World Horse Welfare Charity, HM Revenue and Customs, and many more.
In a four-page report they covered all the angles. They told the story they had discovered, including:
• the story of an RSPCA inspector,
• what Gray’s finances were,
• what the theories are,
• what the reader can do, and
• how the readers can contribute to the charity now looking after the surviving horses.
They also write their own comment piece to go with it. In all, a fine investigation and a great read for H&H’s readers.
The editor Lucy Higginson says: “The single best benefit (ahead of any sales figures!) so far has been the lift it has given the news team. They’ve never been so fired up!”
I had a small part to play in this triumph of investigative journalism. Some months ago I ran a ½-day short news course for H&H. I suggested a campaign of investigations to deliver exclusive and quality news. They had already done one on the trade in horses from East Europe into Italy.
All power to their elbow as they build on this great start. Yes, see, investigative journalism works.