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Watergate to MTV’s Catfish

Posted by: | September 8, 2014 | No Comment |

The definition of investigative journalism is changing with every news story.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines investigative journalism as “a type of journalism that tries to discover information of public interest that someone is trying to hide.”

If one was to think back to a time where investigative journalism became extremely prominent – it is the presidency of Richard Nixon. Two Washington Post journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, spent two years working on uncovering a ring of burglaries at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Their investigative journalism would ultimately bring down Nixon and many other government officials.

While the Watergate scandal had very in depth investigation and research that went into uncovering the truth, sometimes investigative journalism does not have to take as long. In fact, all one needs is an hour of the show “Catfish” on MTV to discover that one’s identity online is not always their true face.

Nev Schulman’s new book “In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age” discusses the term “Catfish” and what it means to deceive people online about who you really are. A spin-off of the popular documentary “Catfish” featuring Nev, follows his MTV Show where he helps individuals track down their online romances and helps them meet.

In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age

Book cover. Image from Barnes & Noble.

Nev’s investigation involves Google searching images, phone numbers, names, reaching out to friends on Facebook or other social media sites as well as even talking to the person in suspect; and ultimately helping the couple meet. According to Schulman, the whole process of meeting the catfish takes a week – incluing spending two days with their hopefuls (the people potentially being catfished), traveling with them to the hometown of their potential online love, meeting the person and reconvening to understand what happened.

Some stories may take journalists over a year to break, like Watergate, whereas others can take a week in real life or an hour block of a television show. Investigative journalism is changing and will continue to do so as human life progresses.


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