1YOU CAN BECOME AN INVESTIGATOR
Any curious and committed individual can uncover important facts, whether you consider yourself a journalist, activist, artist, scientist, student or none of those. We support people from various disciplines who investigate in the public interest, document their findings and articulate clearly where their information comes from. Credibility is built on working accurately, transparently and ethically.
2BE TRANSPARENT IN YOUR METHODS
We believe that open, ethical methods lead to safer and more trustworthy investigations. Be prepared to “show your work” — to explain how you gathered every piece of information and data. Tracking and explaining your steps will make you a more effective investigator, and a more dependable ally and collaborator for others.
3BE INSPIRED BY SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
The scientific method is a proven approach to finding evidence. Like scientists, we strive for others to be able to replicate our work, and we remain open-minded to contradictions of our original hypotheses. Just as peer review is fundamental to science, the best investigations are strengthened by questions and contributions from others.
4BE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND ACT IN GOOD FAITH
Listen with an open mind to the individuals you encounter, regardless of whether they are helping or resisting your inquiry. Be candid with people about how you intend to use their information. Don’t deliberately misrepresent yourself or facts. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
5BE A HEALTHY SCEPTIC
Question expertise and accept no “fact” until you have tested, verified, and confirmed it from multiple sources.
6MIND YOUR OWN BIASES
Question your assumptions and be aware of how your emotions might cloud your judgement. Be ready to change your mind if new evidence casts reasonable doubt on existing evidence.
7BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR FINDINGS
Be meticulous that information you share is accurate, fair, evidence-driven and put in the proper context. Consider, as much as practical, how you can prove that events happened as you say they did. Admit when you make mistakes and be ready to correct them.
8MINIMISE HARM TO OTHERS AND YOURSELF
While investigating, consider the toll of your work on those around you and on yourself. Make a plan for keeping your information sources, colleagues, family and yourself safe, in the physical and digital world.
9AIM FOR POSITIVE IMPACT
The facts we uncover can explain how society works, benefit our communities and lead to positive change.
The idea for a global citizen investigation movement came from Jim Mintz, who has been digging into wrongdoing for 40 years. He started as a freelance reporter before he became a private investigator and founded the Mintz Group, from which he is retired. In recent years, as an adjunct professor of investigative reporting at Columbia Journalism School, Jim began to witness a growing number of people using web technology and open tools to build community power through their own investigations. But these remarkable efforts were almost always happening in isolation. There were few opportunities for these people to meet, let alone collaborate, support, and learn from one another. Jim rallied a group of like-minded investigative practitioners and the Seek Initiative was born.
In September 2022, the Seek Initiative was registered as a non-profit gGmbH in Essen, Germany with a 501(c)3 equivalency certificate from NGOsource. Our founding partners formed an advisory board which consists of members of CORRECTIV (Germany), Global Investigative Journalism Network (Global), DigLab Foundation (US) and Tactical Tech (NL). Seek Initiative received its first start-up funding in September 2022 from The Bay and Paul Foundations. In 2023, this allowed the team to hire a Programme Director, employ freelance project support, co-develop the 10 Pathways curriculum and launch a series of pilot programmes. Today, we’re partnering with NGOs, experienced investigators, and funders to provide tools and training at scale to people across the globe, encouraging and inspiring them to safely investigate and tell their stories. The 10 Pathways of Investigation and Seek Principles were developed with Exposing the Invisible (a Tactical tech project) and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
CORRECTIV investigates injustice and abuses of power and runs educational programs that help citizens to participate in journalism.
DigLab Foundation trains and mentors NGOs and teams of citizen investigators to dig where they stand.
Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), supports the training of investigative and data journalists.
Tactical Tech engages with citizens and civil-society organizations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society.