Andrew Jennings, the reporter who has spent the past 20 years investigating the activities of sports officials at the International Olympic Committee and world football body FIFA, is to criticise newspapers for doing too little investigative journalism in a speech he is to deliver at the University of Stirling later this month.
“We, as journalists, are supposed to work for the public,” Jennings said. “I can remember when the tabloids didn’t fill their pages with two-bit celebrities, but with turning over crime and exposing corruption.”
Jennings made his name working for World In Action on ITV and the BBC’s Panorama, after a career as a crime and news reporter, including on the acclaimed Sunday Times Insight team.
In the past two decades, he has been in dogged pursuit of the likes of Juan-Antonio Samaranch and Sepp Blatter, his books Lords of the Rings and Foul! becoming required reading for anyone covering the Olympics or World Cup. Jennings’ notoriety, though, has seen him convicted (in his absence) by a Swiss court, and banned by Blatter from all FIFA press conferences.
Although some of his investigations have appeared in the Daily Mail and Sunday Herald in recent years, Jennings is frustrated by newspapers’ apparent lack of appetite for his kind of story-getting, a theme he will re-visit when he lectures at Stirling on February 18 as part of the university’s research seminars and lectures in sport series.
“I did a programme about FIFA which had 3 million viewers, yet there was hardly a whisper in the newspapers,” Jennings said.
“Their sports departments are like an articulated lorry being towed behind the main body of the paper. It’s now left solely up to programmes like Panorama to expose corruption.
“I started out at an alternative newspaper with nothing. We had no resources, so it was up to us to find the story. More and more journalists are losing their jobs and this might actually mean they go on their own in search of the story. And nowadays you don’t even need a printing press – just set up a website and you are away.”
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