The daily news journalist gathers and disseminates information about events of public interest. Good journalism requires that facts are checked and sources verified, but in recent times news journalism has become increasingly interconnected with public relations. The role of the investigative journalist is to look behind and beyond reported events to check the accuracy and probity of the ‘official story’ and to explore conflicting or more complex accounts of the events.
In Australia, a number of investigative journalists have been responsible for uncovering corruption, crime and serious breaches of public trust. However, investigative journalism is expensive because of the amount of time and research required to follow a story through to its conclusion, and many commentators feel there has been a decline in quality journalism.
The rise of the internet and other new media outlets has led to an increase in the practice of citizen journalism, whereby ordinary people participate in disseminating news. While this change in the news environment is celebrated for its democratic possibilities, it is also leads to the fragmentation of audiences. There is still an important place for authoritative journalism delivered through centralised media outlets like television, radio and newspapers.
Chris Masters did not come to Four Corners via the usual current affairs career path. As a result, he felt less constrained by established conventions.
'The Dead Heart’ (1987) told the story of two British teenagers who went missing in central Australia. When making this program for Four Corners, Chris Masters decided to reconstruct the events in narrative form of a movie in order to engage viewers.
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