There are six basis interrogatives any investigator needs to know and to use. These are who, what, when, where, how and why, This can be a criminal type investigation, academic investigation, general research, etc. The use of these interrogatives should be procedural for any investigator. In the current political climate it should be common and professional practice for any investigative reporter. Oftentimes we see on television (the electronic media) and read in the print media so called investigative reports. These claim to be professional and some even claim to be unbiased.
The basic interrogatives don’t change. Any investigation must answer these six questions to make any claim to providing a truthful and reliable report. The answers may be incorrect or wrong or outright lies. The questioner must have knowledge on the matter being investigated. The reader or listener likewise must have the reason and intellectual integrity to carefully weigh the information presented in an unbiased manner. For example if a response to any question is ludicrous on its face then even though the proper question was asked, the the questioner should acknowledge that and the reader or listener should discredit it and thereby determine the report to be suspect if not outright unreliable. If a questioner should ask how many immigrants are in this country illegally and the response is stated that there are 127,498,012, anyone should know that is absurd. Even though the number is so specific as to appear as factual, it is still wrong.
A history professor in class years ago would constantly restate “consider events in light of the times.” Slavery in this country was an abomination. Yet it existed without the great outrage it would create today. Granted there were those who did speak up in opposition to it. The lack of great outrage does not make it right or any less an abomination. Likewise the events or times can effect what we are told and how we interpret it. The emotions of the times can inflame us to perhaps not intentionally but still distort our opinions and perceptions. Emotion masquerading as reason is a slippery slope from which it is very difficult to climb back up.
The source also should always be an issue. The source may be the information giver or the reporter. I often wonder where the media find some of their so-called consultants or experts. There is always a title or former position referenced which is meant to say this person is smarter than us and has the inside scoop. Somehow I feel much better when there are academic credentials to support a claim of expertise. For example someone having served in the military does not make them an expert on the strategy for waging a military campaign irrespective of the rank which the person achieved or the current rank.
Unfortunately too often the information we read or hear is based on what someone believes. We can believe both correct and false information. My question is what do you know and how do you know it. Knowledge is more than a hunch or feeling as is truth.