The courage to speak : how investigative journalists persuade reluctant whistleblowers to tell their stories : a thesis submitted to Massey University in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), 2010.
Investigative journalism is often said to be based on two pillars of information
gathering – documents and human sources. Yet while document retrieval and
analysis have received much attention in recent years, particularly with the advent
of computer‐assisted reporting and Freedom of Information legislation, remarkably
little attention has been given in the journalistic literature to best practice for
developing and maintaining sources, especially reluctant, vulnerable sources with
high‐risk information. This thesis uses a case study approach to analyse four highprofile
examples of New Zealand investigative journalism based on revelation by
vulnerable and reluctant human sources. Using interviews with both the sources and
the journalists who persuaded them to speak out, it draws on persuasion and social
psychology theory to explain the decision‐making process of the whistleblowers and
establish a model of best practice for journalists wishing to persuade reluctant,
vulnerable people to speak out safely and effectively.