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Democracy’s Detectives

Democracy’s Detectives

The Economics of Investigative Journalism

James T. Hamilton

ISBN 9780674986817

Publication date: 10/08/2018

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Winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Winner of the Tankard Book Award, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
Winner of the Frank Luther Mott–Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism & Mass Communication Research Award

In democratic societies, investigative journalism holds government and private institutions accountable to the public. From firings and resignations to changes in budgets and laws, the impact of this reporting can be significant—but so too are the costs. As newspapers confront shrinking subscriptions and advertising revenue, who is footing the bill for journalists to carry out their essential work? Democracy’s Detectives puts investigative journalism under a magnifying glass to clarify the challenges and opportunities facing news organizations today.

“Hamilton’s book presents a thoughtful and detailed case for the indispensability of investigative journalism—and just at the time when we needed it. Now more than ever, reporters can play an essential role as society’s watchdogs, working to expose corruption, greed, and injustice of the years to come. For this reason, Democracy’s Detectives should be taken as both a call to arms and a bracing reminder, for readers and journalists alike, of the importance of the profession.”
—Anya Schiffrin, The Nation

“A highly original look at exactly what the subtitle promises…Has this topic ever been more important than this year?”
—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution


  • This is an outstanding book, the product of careful thinking, of remarkable and painstaking gathering of data on investigative reporting—past and present—that no one in academia or in journalism has ever undertaken before. It is a moving, evidence-based affirmation of the value of journalism to democracy.

    —Michael Schudson, Columbia University


  • 2017, Winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize
  • 2016, Winner of the Frank Luther Mott - Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism & Mass Communication Research Award
  • 2018, Winner of the Tankard Book Award


  • James T. Hamilton is Hearst Professor of Communication at Stanford University.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press