Editor's Blog - How we work, how we make decisions, how we serve Canadians.

Editor in Chief

CBC partners with University of Winnipeg to hold investigative journalism conference

Categories: Canada, Journalism

U of Wpg - CBC new logo3-large2.jpg


Holding Power to Account: One of Journalism's Most Important Objectives

In her provocative book called Taking Journalism Seriously, author Barbie Zelizer says many scholars and academics have historically had trouble paying serious attention to the work reporters do.

After all, as the writers of the first draft of history, journalists can sometimes get facts, interpretations and nuances wrong. That's true of anyone writing a first draft of anything.

But Zelizer, a former journalist turned academic, says journalism is far too important to be treated lightly. It is a powerful means to inform the public, to shape opinions, and to provide citizens with the vital information they need to exercise their democratic rights.

At CBC News, we take journalism very seriously. And some of our most serious and provocative journalism is of the investigative variety. We also think it's important to be transparent in our methods, and to have broad discussions with the public about how we do our work.

That is one of the reasons the CBC is partnering with the University of Winnipeg to host a conference next June entitled: Holding Power to Account: International Conference on Investigative Journalism, Democracy and Human Rights.

This will be an international conference that brings journalists, academics and the public together from around the world to debate some of the important issues that investigative journalism can help illuminate. It is scheduled for June 13-15, 2014 at the University of Winnipeg.

I am happy to be the honorary co-chair for this event along with Lloyd Axworthy, president of the University of Winnipeg and former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Canada. The conference will uniquely blend seminars and speeches from working journalists with papers and research presentations from academics.

We are just in the early planning stages of the event, but already we have confirmed some exciting speakers and participants. Peter Mansbridge, our chief correspondent and anchor of The National, will be on hand to deliver remarks and kick off the event.

We are also happy to announce that Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and part of the Woodward-Bernstein team of Watergate fame, will deliver a keynote address. Watergate continues to be one of the defining stories in the history of investigative journalism, emblematic of the value journalists can bring to holding powerful interests to account.

Diana Swain, our senior investigative correspondent, and Adrienne Arsenault, our correspondent with extensive international reporting experience, will also be in Winnipeg. So will Linden MacIntyre and Bob McKeown of the fifth estate, who together have many decades of experience producing the best investigative journalism in Canadian history.

It is our hope to have journalists and participants from every continent, including countries where the very practice of investigative journalism can carry security risks. Paul Radu, a Romanian journalist, will be in Winnipeg to speak about his groundbreaking work with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project of Eastern Europe.

The conference will cover many themes, from the importance of investigative journalism to basic human rights, to investigating corruption globally, to an examination of criminal justice abuses like wrongful convictions, imprisonments and torture.

We will also be discussing how investigative journalism examines aboriginal human rights, and there will also be emphasis on the ethics of journalistic tactics and techniques.

We'll have more information about participants and speakers in the months to come, but for more information in the meantime, write to winnipeg2014@gmail.com.

Or check our Call for Proposals page.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.