The Power of Crowdsourcing in Investigative Journalism


In a world of ever-increasing media manipulation by government and business, its become even more important for investigative journalists to use technology and connectivity to reveal hidden truths.

In today’s new media age, journalists do this by networking online with a variety of informal groups and expert individuals. Networked investigative journalists are open, interactive, and regularly facilitate the public to become co-producers in a story, often to speed the investigation process and create a lasting impact.

Facilitating the public for assistance is often referred to as crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is an extremely powerful tool in investigative journalism.


  • Nominal Costs.
  • With the growing usage of social media around the world, journalists are able to easily map specific conversations in order to create a narrative, which is perhaps more factual then what is otherwise being presented in the public eye.
  • Offer journalists more insight and information as they can ask for help directly from people in positions to know about the topic.
  • Fast/ Real-time communication, which can be used to find out what is happening at the scene directly from eye witnesses.
  • Provide journalists with physical evidence to aid investigation

The Ian Tomlinson case is a perfect example of how crowdsourcing can help in investigative journalism.

TED Talk of the case:


In 2011, London police released a false story as to how Ian Tomlinson had died. According to them Tomlinson died of natural causes as he made his way through a protest.

After coming across inconsistent stories about this case, journalist Paul Lewis decided to further investigate. In his investigation Lewis took the help of social media predominantly Twitter, which helped him get in touch with eyewitness.

With the help of eyewitnesses and other skeptical individuals Lewis was able to put out stories that raised questions about the case. As a result of this crowdsourcing, Lewis obtained video footage from an eyewitness, which showed Tomlinson being aggressively handled by an unprovoked police officer.  In turn bringing new light on the case.


Vehkoo, J. (2013, August). Crowdsourcing in Investigative Journalism. Retrieved from in Investigative Journalism_0.pdf

How mobile phones helped solve two murders. (2011, April). Retrieved from

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Amrit Kang.


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