Investigative Journalism

Investigative Journalism


The sites visualizes insider trading of US companies by both insiders and members of congress. Any insider trade that has been reported to the SEC can be found mapped onto the stock graph.

The Investigative Journalism Manual

GIJN: Eight Lessons from Investigations into the Olympics

AFP Course: Digital Investigation Techniques


Bellingcat Online Investigative Toolkit

Google Public Data Explorer

Google Dataset Search
Search for data in this Google search tool.

US Local Data Portals
This Github account lists dozens of portals.
A list of more than 400 data portals from around the world.

ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer Database
Free database to research tax-exempt organizations. You can search full text of nonprofit tax forms.

Better Data Portals
Keyword search across data sets for Socrata data portals

Chrono Download Manager
Makes all elements on a webpage — images, spreadsheets, PDFs and more — downloadable with one click. Helpful when downloading several .PDFs from one government web page.

C4ADs Wildlife Dashboard
Showcases trends in wildlife seizures worldwide from 2013 to the present. As of today, the C4ADS Wildlife Seizure Dashboard includes data on 5,362 seizures spanning 112 jurisdictions for five frequently-trafficked wildlife categories: elephant ivory, leopard, pangolin, rhino horn, and tiger.

For more training videos, visit our YouTube page.


The Accountability Project
From the Investigative Reporting Workshop, this site curates, standardizes and indexes public data to give journalists, researchers and others a simple way to search across otherwise siloed records. You can browse datasets by people, organizations and locations.

GIJN Help Desk
Pose questions to experts about investigative journalism.

GIJN: Tips for Finding People Online

GIJN: 10 Tips for Investigating Police Misconduct

FIRE Contract Principles
Outlines principles for freelance investigative reporting work. It also links to information about FIRE’s new contract template.

GIJN Guide to Fact-Checking Investigative Stories

Malachy Brown’s Toolkit
Open-source investigative tools on a Startme page.

WNYC Police Misconduct Records
A state-by-state breakdown of police misconduct records, with links to databases.

APM Reports: In the Dark
An investigative journalism podcast from American Public Media.

Open Source Intelligence Framework
One of the largest federal #FOIA portals

15 Tips for Investigating War Crimes

IRE 22 Tipsheet: Investigating Cannabis

Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting

GIJN: 9 Tips for Investigative Journalists to Improve Their Writing

GIJN Guide to Undercover Reporting
Tips and tools, case studies, ethical concerns and more.

GIJN: Eight Lessons from Investigations into the Olympics

The Investigative Journalism Manual

Google News Initiative Investigative Reporting Course
Free online course on tools to help with investigative reporting. The intensive course will help you take advantage of Internet sources such as court cases, public data and news archives. It is designed to improve the efficiency and efficacy of your in-depth research. Tools used: Google Search, Google Scholar, Google Public Data Explorer, Google Maps, Google Earth Pro.

Bellingcat: A Beginner’s Guide to Flight Tracking

Online Vital Records Directory
An independent service provider from where you can get all information about vital records office as public information.

Bellingcat Online Investigation Toolkit

GIJN: Investigative Editing and Managing Tipsheets
Long list of links and tipsheets for managing workflow, etc. from some of the best in the business.

GIJN: 7 Tips for Creating an Investigative Podcast

Koch Docs
Collection of Koch Foundation documents.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Bellingcat: A Beginner’s Guide to Flight Tracking
Collection of Koch Foundation documents.

Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting
News trade organization dedicated to increasing and retaining reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting.

GIJN: Tips for Investigative Journalists Using the Wayback Machine

OSINT Curious: Using for OSINT Investigations

Digital Violence
UK research agency tracks government spy techniques on journalists.

Crowdsource documents for investigations.

Marine Traffic App
Track shipping vessels.

Tips: Managing the Investigative Project
Tips from Walter Robinson, formerly of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe.

Open Source Intelligence Tools Handbook (OSINT)
An exhaustive list of current digital research tools– social media, phone records, data scraping, crypto, site-mapping, image search, dark web, etc.

Global Investigative Journalism Network: Data Journalism Tools
A comprehensive list of data tools.

Journalist’s Resource: Six Tips for Covering Whistleblowers

Bellingcat Online Investigative Toolkit

ICIJ: The Pandora Papers Investigation
Largest journalism collaborative ever investigated the leak of financial secrets of 330 officials in more than 90 countries.

ICFJ DataShare
Tracks investigations and leaks.

Freedom of the Press Foundation: How Safe Are Your Favorite Transcription Tools?

Global scam database. Search for reported identities related to online scammers by crypto address, username, email, or phone number.

10 Digital Forensic Tips from Bellingcat

GIJN: Planespotting: A Guide to Tracking Aircraft Around the World

The sites visualizes insider trading of US companies by both insiders and members of congress. Any insider trade that has been reported to the SEC can be found mapped onto the stock graph.

Open Sanctions
An international database of persons and companies of political, criminal, or economic interest. The project combines the most relevant sanctions lists, databases of politically exposed persons, and other information about persons in the public interest into a single, easy-to-use dataset. The data and the code used to make it are distributed for free. Cross-check databases for conflicts of interests and signs of illicit activity. Screen potential customers and partners in international dealings. Track political conflicts and compare world-wide sanctions policies. Integrate due diligence data into existing data products.

AFP Course: Digital Investigation Techniques

GIJN: Investigating Arms Trafficking

SPJ: How Whistleblowers Can Share Info with News Media

Speed investigations with Pipl’s identity resolution engine connects the world’s personal, professional and social identity data to give analysts and investigators an unmatched global index of over 3 billion trusted identity profiles.

GIJN: The Rise of Digital Whistleblowing Platforms and How They Work

GIJN: Digging up Hidden Data with the Web Inspector

BBC Africa Eye: Digital Forensics Dashboard
A collation of some essential tools tailored to journalists using open source intelligence (OSINT) to carry out investigations.

GIJN: Tops 12 Guides and Tipsheets from 2021

From the Tow Center, a guide to the use and significance of SecureDrop, an in-house system for news organizations to securely communicate with anonymous sources and receive documents over the Internet.

Civic: Politico Elections Data Management Tools
A great suite of open source data creation tools for covering the elections.

GIJN: Illegal Wildlife Tracking Guide

Launch crowdsourced campaigns, build a data story with a dimple editing tool, and then analyze the data.

AI-powered writing assistant. You can visually create, organize and connect notes and see how your story outline is coming together on use it as an infinite whiteboard. AI finds similarities between ideas so you can see hidden connections, be more creative and fill the page. It’s useful for investigative journalists to conduct research and turn files, docs, and notes into insightful discoveries faster.

OCCRP Aleph is an investigative data platform that helps reporters follow the money. Search across data and documents from previous investigations, official sources, and scraped databases. Aleph is more than just a document search engine: it also imports structured data from spreadsheets and databases, enabling journalists to explore detailed data about persons of interest, companies, financial transactions, and more. Reporters and researchers can upload their own files to private investigations, extract text, sketch a diagram to summarize their investigative findings, and cross-reference persons of interest and companies.

GIJN: A Guide to Tracking Aircraft Around the World

How Factal is Covering Russia’s War on Ukraine

#MineAlert is a website and mobile app that shares mining activity information to promote public- and private-sector accountability in the mining sector, to advance civil society and socio-economic rights, to protect the free flow of information, and to strengthen justice and equality.

ICFJ: Offshore Leaks
Find out who’s behind more than 785,000 offshore companies, foundations and trusts from the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks, the Bahamas Leaks and the Paradise Papers investigations. Search by country or jurisdiction.

Ring Document Search Engine: Ukraine
Search more than 20 databases from the Ukraine.

GIJN: Investigations for Beat Reporters

GIJN: Five Inspiring Investigative Newsletters

IJNet: Tips for Editing Investigative Stories

The World Bank
Free and open access to global development data.

GIJN Guide for Investigating Health and Medicine
Comprehensive list of resources, tips and techniques to dig into health issues.

GIJN: Climate Crisis Ideas for Investigative Journalists

GIJN Guide: Business Tools for Journalists

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

National Transportation Atlas

GIJN: 12 Tips on Reaching More People With Investigative Stories

GIJN: Investigative Tactics That Reporters Love

Vessel Finder
Track boats – including yachts – around the world.

SPJ Whistleblower Project
SPJ and the Government Accountability Project have teamed up with several other whistleblowing and media organizations to inform journalists on how they can safely work with whistleblowers, and have created a comprehensive case for why those brave workers who risk everything should be praised and better protected.

European Journalism Observatory: Working With Whistleblowers In The Digital Age: New Guidelines
Great tips for investigative journalists on protecting sources.

Gives you one place to search for company information, rather than spending hours each week conducting the same repetitive searches on a variety of public data sites.

Tools and Apps: The Essentials for Covering Silicon Valley
NY Times reporter discusses apps and tools he uses to cover Silicon Valley, including many tools to protect privacy and sources.

GIJN: Data Journalism Resource Center
Tools, primers and other resources galore for investigative journalists using data.

Investigative Journalism Education Consortium

GIJN: My Favorite Tools
A weekly interview with investigative journalists and the tools they use.

Kobo Toolbox
Data collection tools.

Analyze and visualize documents.

Open Corporates
The largest open database of companies in the world.

Violation Tracker
Violation Tracker is the first wide-ranging database on corporate misconduct. Produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, it covers banking, consumer protection, false claims, environmental, wage and hour, safety, discrimination, price-fixing, and other cases resolved by federal regulatory agencies and all parts of the Justice Department since 2000 — plus cases from state AGs and selected state regulatory agencies.

Track changes on websites. Good for monitoring public records pages.
Search for billions of public records. Free search, also has paid plans.

Washington Post Training Videos: How to be a Journalist
Series of videos on basics of reporting, FOIAs and more.
Open-source intelligence tools for the web.

GIJN: Top Tipsheets of 2021

The Ultimate OSINT Collection

SPJ Open Doors
Tips for accessing public records.
A simpler way to access Census data so they can spend less time importing and managing the data and more time exploring and reporting the data.

Bellingcats Digital Forensics Tools
Open source verification and investigative tools.

GIJN YouTube Channel: Talking Investigative Journalism
Top investigative reporters and editors share tips, tools and concepts.

FOIAFest 2018 Resources
Links, handouts, tools and more from the Chicago FOIAFest event.

Assists with OSINT searches as a real time search engine which allows the users to aggregate, curate and report on data. The paid desktop tool uses image-recognition AI to locate objects, keywords and behaviors from narrative and visual media data sets.

Metacleaner removes the metadata from files. Storing files in the cloud or sharing files on the Internet is very useful but can be dangerous at the same time. When we upload a certain file, it usually has several details about our identity that, in one way or another, compromises our privacy and offers all users who get access to them personal information about us that we may not want them to have.

The FOIA Project
Its goal: provide the public with timely and complete information about every instance in which the federal government grants or withholds records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

A grassroots watchdog network connecting the dots between the world’s most powerful people and organizations.

NTSB: Aviation Accident Database

GIJN: Best Global Investigative Podcasts

Aviation Safety Network

Flight Aware
Track by flight number or by route. Great phone app as well.

How to Get Started in Online Open-Source Investigations

Open Corporates
A large database of companies.

Awesome OSINT
A curated list of amazingly awesome open source intelligence tools and resources.

Research Clinic
Open source investigative tools from Paul Myers at the BBC.

GIJN Toolbox: Search for Hidden Connections Between Websites
Tools like VirusTotal, SpyOnWeb, etc.
Website owner details. Retrieve names, ABNs, emails.

YouTube Metadata
Grabs singular details about a video and its uploader, playlist and creator/channel. Submit a link to a video, playlist or channel. Has reverse image/video search built-in.

Bellingcat: TikTok Hashtag Analysis Tool
Allows researchers to collect a dataset of TikToks associated with specific hashtags over lengthier periods.

Bellingcat: Investigate TikTok Like a Pro
Free Chrome extension that alerts you when a web page changes.
Monitor website pages for text and graphic changes. Email alerts when a page changes.

SOS Social Security Number Watch
Match a social security number to a holder and validate. Run through the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard.

Amazon 990 Filings
Machine-readable data from certain electronic 990 forms filed with the IRS from 2011 to present are available for anyone to use via Amazon S3.

Public Records Online
Search state-by-state criminal records, real estate information and more.

Working with Whistleblowers – A Guide for Journalists
Guide created by the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

Dart Center: Maintaining Boundaries with Sources, Colleagues and Supervisors

BRB Public Records online.
A huge sites with links to free and pay public records sites.

ProPublica Recovery Tracker: How Much Stimulus Funding Is Going To Your County?

75 Tools for Investigative Journalism
From Ezra Eeman of Journalism2ls.

A Journalist’s Guide to Web Scraping

R for Journalists
Tips and resources for anyone using R in data reporting

GIJN: Five Great Investigative Documentaries to Watch (2020)
Links to almost 5,000 public records databases. Claims to be the largest free collection of public records databases on the Web. Formerly the PAC-Info. site, just click on a state and you’ll get a list of all free public record collections for that state. Most include incorporation filings.

Open Prism: Data Portal Search
Search data portals from all over the world by typing in one keyword.

Washington Post Training Videos: How to be a Journalist
Series of videos on basics of reporting, FOIAs and more.

Why Don’t We Know?
An investigative journalism podcast supported by a grant from the Hearst Family Foundations and produced by the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a research center focused on improving the public’s access to civically essential information.

Launched in November 2020, it’s a free software graphical tool for cross-checking and advanced data investigations that allows visualizing relationships in graphs.

Global Brand Database
Perform a trademark search by text or image in brand data from multiple national and international sources, including trademarks, appellations of origin and official emblems.
This site charges a fee. Search state/local criminal, DMV, prison records and more.

FOIA Machine
Automate your FOIAs.

Sqoop Tipsheet

Journalism Tools: Investigative Resources
A Pinterest page full of investigative tools and resources.

Expose Facts
A whistleblower’s website.

Security Tools for Investigative Journalists
Powerpoint full of resources.

BRB Publications
Search public records by state.

Federal FOIA Appeals Guide
From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Filter and sort census information. Super tool.

Free, downloadable data sets.
Lets you explore the entire federal budget in increasing granularity, illustrating how awards derive from federal accounts. Interactive visualizations provide help building context, and multiple breakdowns clarify the relationships between federal-spending components..
From the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, this is a one-stop management tool for public-records projects and filing FOIA requests.

20 Tools for Investigative Reporting

Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

Download Data Without Scraping
Filter and sort census information. Super tool.

Unlock data trapped inside .PDFs.

BBC’S College of Journalism: Useful Investigative Journalism Tools

Spreadsheet Journalism Blog
Digital journalist Abbott Katz blogs from London. His blog “helps bring you up to speed with some of Excel’s important capabilities, and points you at the story possibilities boxed inside the data.”

Sunlight Academy
Training site for how to use Sunlight Foundation resources for unlocking government data.

Investigative Dashboard
A treasure drove of research and public records tools, both U.S. and abroad.

Bureau Local Collaborative Investigative Journalism Tools

GIJN: Key Tools and Datasets for Unearthing Hard-to-Find Information
Hunchly is integrated with Google Chrome and stores full web page captures of every site you visit, and every search you perform. Travel back in time and review web pages or social media accounts that have been suspended or removed.

APM Reports: In the Dark Investigative Podcast

NICAR 2016 Slides, Links and Tutorials

U.S. Energy Information Administration

FINRA: BrokerCheck
Investigate registered brokers through this site from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Icarus Flights
Track plane locations by tail number.
Morningstar’s guide to what’s hiding in SEC filings.

ComFind Public Records Site
News, laws, initiatives and activities that relate in any way to the keeping and distribution of information and public records.

Google Search Techniques for Journalists
Many tips and tricks.

West Coast investigative journalism news site from former Seattle Post-Intelligencer journalists.

Vanno: The Company Reputation Index
Captures gossip, news, opinion and personal insight about companies and their reputations, and turns it all into numerical scores and rankings. Browser Extension
A free browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari that exposes the role money plays in Congress. Displays on any web page detailed campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including total amount received and breakdown by industry and by size of donation. Puts vital data where it’s most relevant so you can discover the real impact of money on our political system. Oh, and it was built by a 16-year-old coder.

Reynolds National Center for Business: Free Investigative tools

USPS ZIP Code Lookup
A government data mashup that is an initiative of the Obama administration.

The Pulitzer Center
The Pulitzer Center raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism and a unique program of education and public outreach.
An investigative reporting site from former LA Times columnist Robert Sheer.

An independent Web-based reporting aimed at “exposing securities fraud and corporate chicanery.”

Foundation Center
Tax forms and other documents about several charitable organizations.

Watchdogging Sports Tipsheet
From IRE 2016.

From American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, this site follows trends and issues in the banking industry.

National Attorney Generals Association
This site has links to state attorney general’s offices.

A database of congressional staff salaries and other valuable public records, such as the most comprehensive database of all privately financed trips taken by members of Congress and congressional staffers.

City of Chicago Data Dictionary
The site “serves as a single, comprehensive database catalog for the City of Chicago and City of Chicago sister agencies. It is a resource for anyone who is interested in understanding what data is held by City agencies and departments, how and if it may be accessed, and in what formats it may be accessed.”

CJR Shield Law and Reporter’s Privilege: What Every Reporter Needs to Know

Launched in October 2016 in Beta, this offers a page of tools, links and resources on using FOIA.
Resources and leads for investigating algorithms in society. A project of the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern University.

FOIA Wiki: FOIA Basics
A good primer for newbies.

RCFP: FOIA Appeals Guide

Student Press Law Center: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

The Innocence Project
A searchable database of states offering projects to free wrongfully accused prisoners through DNA and other evidence. Run by the Cardozo School of Law in NYC.

Terrorism Research Center
Resources and research including comprehensive listing of links to terrorism-related Web pages including profiles of individual terrorist groups compiled by the U.S. Navy’s Dudley Knox Library.

Syracuse University: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)

Google Public Data Explorer
Makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand.
Search federal court, divorce court, marriage licenses, military records and more.

World Corruption Site
Site says it is run by “global non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption. Its mission is to create change toward a world free of corruption.”

Center for Public Integrity
Tips and resources on using public documents, including campaign finance research.

The Smoking Gun
This is a good FOIA site that claims to find documents that can’t be found elsewhere on the Web. Its material is gleaned from government documents, court files, etc.
“Interesting Federal Government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.”
A fantastic site for researching campaign finance statistics.
A great site. Roots out the funding sources of the most notorious anti-consumer groups. It continually adds profiles on the first of every month.

GAO’s Congressional Investigations
Track investigations through the General Accounting Office.

Government Audits
State inspector general’s offices that audit federal programs that the agency oversees.
A good site for FEC and PAC data.

Securities & Exchange Commission

African Network of Centers for Investigative Journalism

GIJN: Out of Africa: Powering Up Geo-Journalism for Investigative Environmental Reporting

SNAP: Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

FTC Charity Checklist

Cemetery Records Online
Maintains records from 4,307 cemeteries both nationwide and abroad. The site regularly updates users on which cemeteries have been added to their database.

Sunlight Foundation: Earmark Watch
Resources for citizens to track congressional spending. You have to register for the site, but it helps you investigate earmarks – spending measures inserted by members of Congress into bills that direct taxpayer dollars to their pet projects. The site has more than 3,000 of them.
Ratings, reviews and salaries for more than 11,000 employers. It’s information posted by anonymous employees, so be careful with the information you use. Fact-check everything. It can be helpful as a quick snapshot of a company you’re backgrounding.

Sunlight Foundation: Open Congress
Sunlight and the Participatory Politics Foundation run this site, which tracks bills, votes, senators and representatives. It includes an RSS feed that registers your zip code to track all the actions by your elected officials and what people are saying about them.

Vital Records Online
An extensive list of adoption resources.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2002
A guide for working through the FOIA/open government process. It is published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

iDig Answers
Great for generating FOI-related story ideas.

Wall Street Journal: Markets Data Center
A great quick-reference tool. Access to this does not require a subscription to the WSJ.
An independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Submit questions to a librarian. Includes a chat feature and links to various collections.

Sunlight Foundation
Political watchdog group that tracks lobbyists and fundraising.

National FOI Coalition

Society of Professional Journalists: Freedom of Information Resources

ACLU Free Speech Resources

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information

National Security Archive: Freedom of Information Act Resources
From George Washington University.

Federal Citizens’ Information Center: Privacy Resources

Depth Reporting

The Scoop Blog
CAR and investigative reporting. Money and Politics
Database makes connections between legislative votes and campaign donations.
Blog, tips and resources from web developer and CAR expert from the St. Petersburg Times.

Center on Executive Compensation
The center is dedicated to developing and promoting principled pay and governance practices and advocating compensation policies that serve the best interests of shareholders and other corporate stakeholders. This site might be helpful in sourcing and finding statistics for stories about overpaid CEOs.

Digital Vaults
A curated view of 1,200 of the most impressive holdings in the National Archives.

FIRE: Guide to Free Speech on Campus
Book/ebook from the Foundation of Individual Rights on Campus.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

National Consumer Law Center


Scam Busters

National Council on Consumer Interests

Consumer Affairs

Consumer Search Product Reviews

Review Finder

National Fraud Information Center

FDA Food and Drug Import Refusals

Unlike public companies, where you can look up tax filings easily in the EDGAR database, private companies and startups can be difficult to track. Here are a few tools and tips that can help:
Track investments into startups, growing businesses, hedge funds, and private equity firms. We do this by sorting, filtering and extracting critical information from the hundreds of SEC filings (called “Form Ds”) filed each day. The site processes SEC filings on a real-time basis and often learns about new investments before newspapers and online publications. You can search for people, company names, specific industries, or focus on regions or cities.

If the company has been sued, many times it must file financial disclosures in court. This is a good way to find them. Check civil and criminal court records at all levels.

National Fraud Information Center
Track public and private business frauds by industry.

Better Business Bureau
Look through complaints against public and private companies. Could be a good back door for investigating a private company.

AM Best
Ratings and financial data on insurance companies.

National Credit Union Administration
Ratings and financial data on insurance companies.

US Patent and Trademark Office
Track what private and public companies are applying for.

EPA: Toxic Release Inventory Data
Even private companies get investigated. Find data here.

Government agency keeps safety and hazard information on private and public companies.

Standard Directory of Advertisers
This book, published annually, tracks corporate advertising and marketing budgets. Good for researching public and private companies.

Reynolds Center for Business Journalism: Guide to Investigating Public and Private Companies

Reynolds Center for Business Journalism: Beginner’s Guide to Corporate 10-Q Filings

Corporate Watch: Guide to Investigating Companies

E-Investigator: Starting a Corporate Investigation
Not specific to journalists but links to many databases and tools for pulling records as well as some good steps to take. Includes public vs. private corporations.

Other places to look when backgrounding private companies:
Besides looking federal agencies and regulatory organizations, here are some other tips to investigate private companies.

  • Secretary of State’s Office has records on every business incorporated in your state. You can search by company name, new corporations, etc. It lists business execs, expired licenses etc. Try your state’s Attorney General’s office as well.
  • Trade associations often compile data on public and private companies.


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