The Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ) unites media organizations and journalism schools across Canada in order to provide students with practical training and carry out large-scale investigations in the national public interest.
Through collaborative projects coordinated by the IIJ, students across Canada gain skills under the guidance of seasoned professionals, joining a close-knit community of reporters. By working together across institutional boundaries and provincial and national borders, they obtain the flexibility to learn anything required of them to probe complex topics, often shrouded in specialized knowledge.
What’s more, communities from coast to coast benefit from the complex, high-impact stories made possible by the IIJ at a time when most local and regional media outlets lack the resources, infrastructure and manpower needed to investigate and expose potentially harmful industrial activities. Through comparative reporting on alternative policy approaches, and drawing on the research and capabilities of institutions across the IIJ’s network, our collaborative project will offer communities concrete solutions to the problems we uncover.
The collaborative network hosted by the IIJ is growing in size and strength. We carry out at least one major collaborative investigation annually.
Dwindling revenues have led to the downsizing of newsrooms everywhere. The decline of local and regional media, especially, represents a gap with immediate consequences for democratic governance, public health and the environment.
In Canada’s sparsely populated rural areas and similarly across the U.S. Midwest, for example, the actions of industry and government go largely unchecked. The resources, infrastructure and manpower needed to investigate and expose potentially harmful industrial activities, particularly in Canada’s geographically dispersed natural resources sector, are out of reach for many media outlets. What’s more, a culture of silence often prevails, inhibiting whistleblowers and local voices from speaking up.
Led by Patti Sonntag, BA 00, a former managing editor in The New York Times’ News Services Division, the Institute for Investigative Journalism’s mission is to support accountability and investigative reporting across Canada, particularly in regions where it is lacking.
To overcome the challenge of reporting across Canada’s vast geography and low population density, Sonntag and Robert Cribb, an investigative reporter with the Toronto Star and journalism instructor at Ryerson University, developed a bold and novel approach. They set up a group of media organizations and universities, leveraging researchers and driven journalism students. Collectively, the group possesses the manpower and expertise needed to perform a core mission of investigative journalism: holding government and industry accountable.
The Institute for Investigative Journalism seeks to:
- Enhance society by educating the public about corrupt, fraudulent and otherwise improper or questionable practices in society by providing an institute that helps to bring together the expertise and research efforts of learning institutions, nonprofits and media companies across Canada and around the world, with the common goal of together producing works for publication and broadcast.
- Aid beginning and mid-career journalists with developing their investigative and enterprise reporting skills through education, conferences, support for fellowships and other forms of aid, with the goal of providing opportunities for the practical application of these skills in the publishing process.
- Address issues of news poverty by assisting the journalists and researchers associated with the institute as they provide quality reporting for underserved communities.
- Seek out and develop theoretical and practical solutions to the problems uncovered by the IIJ’s reporting projects, including developing tools for journalists, by drawing on expertise across the network of learning institutions, nonprofits and media companies associated with the institute and, where appropriate, making these solutions available for the public benefit.
- Further disseminate skills learned in the course of our work by holding workshops, conferences and talks designed to enhance the knowledge of journalists, journalism students, researchers and members of the public.
The Institute for Investigative Journalism is committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethical, responsible and trustworthy journalism. We strive for impartiality, objectivity and fairness in our reporting and our editorial direction, and are accountable first and foremost to the public.
The subject of our national investigative projects arise from our reporting and research and are chosen with our editorial board. We work with members of our communities to develop and share ideas.
Our editorial decisions are not subject to interference from funders, universities or special interest groups. Our funding is administered through Concordia University’s research grants system. Our funders do not have input into the selection of our investigation topics or our editorial direction.
Concordia University funds two full-time positions and our operational costs.
The Institute also receives funding and in-kind contributions from our university and media partners, which include staff time, office space and other administrative costs.
Price of Oil
Donations have gone to student reporting and travel costs at participating universities and a student researcher to assist the team.
- Michener Awards Foundation: $35,000
- Corporate Mapping Project: $49,000
- University of Regina, Office of the Vice President Research: $8,000
- Donations received via GoFundMe campaign: $786.25
We are grateful for additional financial support from private donors. If you are interested in supporting high-impact investigative journalism in Canada, you can do so using our online giving form. Select “Other” from the pull-down menu and specify “Institute for Investigative Journalism” in the freeform field.
Cheque, payable to Concordia University, can be mailed to:
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., FB-520
Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1M8
Please be sure to note on the cheque that your donation should be directed to the Institute for Investigative Journalism. Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 3884.