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RISJ Fellow named as new director for the Centre of Investigative Journalism

Former RISJ Fellow James Harkin has been appointed the new director for the Centre of for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) at Goldsmith’s University London.

Harkin, whose most recent book, Hunting Season, explored the links between several high-profile journalist kidnappings and the rise of ISIS, and whose RISJ research paper focused on new media and the Syrian conflict, took up the prestigious new position this month.

The CIJ is a think-tank and experimental laboratory set up to train a new generation of reporters in the craft of investigative, in-depth journalism. Housed in the creative inter-disciplinary environment of Goldsmiths, University of London, but with broad international reach, they draw upon their network to champion investigative journalism and defend investigative journalists and those who work with them.

Setting out his ambitions in the new role, Harkin said: “There is now an unacknowledged war on investigative journalism in this country: the already onerous British libel laws, the proposed new Espionage Act, post-Leveson proposals to deny journalists protection when acquiring information through backdoor methods and the illiberal Investigatory Powers Act. Up against a torrent of garbage on Twitter and Facebook, investigative journalists are being forced to work with one hand tied behind their backs. The CIJ, building on its hard-won reputation for independence and integrity, intends to stand up for investigative journalism and lead the fight.

“Our immediate task is to address the headwinds which face the industry, both in terms of who funds it and where it goes from here. We interpret investigative journalism broadly, and we’re happy to serve both the mainstream and independent media without discrimination; our only criterion for evaluating the media is the quantity of investigative labour which goes into the product. That means we're happy to invite everyone to the CIJ’s annual industry-standard Summer Conference, from the Mail to the Ferret. In our vibrant new interdisciplinary home of Goldsmiths, we’re working with other to create conversations across disciplines and refresh the idea of investigative journalism. We’re also nimble and international, with a fantastically loyal team of collaborators from Berkeley to Buenos Aires to Beirut.”

Harkin says that one of his key aims will be to continue with and expand a successful training programme that sees the CIJ engage with journalists around the UK.

“In these post-Brexit times, the really progressive thing might be to think less about ethics and more about Essex - to get out of London and around the country. That’s what we’re doing. In recent years our biggest success has been in taking our industry-standard training around the country, from Glasgow to Belfast, teaching real professional journalism skills and state-of-the-art operational security to whoever wants them. It’s been an enormous success, and we’re already looking to expand it.”

Find out more about the CIJ here.