The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) is an independent, nonprofit media agency that specializes in investigative reporting. It was founded in 1989 by nine Filipino journalists who realized, from their years in the beat and at the news desk, the need for newspapers and broadcast agencies to go beyond day–to–day reportage.
While the Philippine press is undoubtedly the liveliest and freest in Asia, deadline pressures, extreme competition, budgetary constraints, and safety issues make it difficult for many journalists to delve into the causes and broader meanings of news events.
The PCIJ believes that the media play a crucial role in scrutinizing and strengthening democratic institutions, defending and asserting press freedom, freedom of information, and freedom of expression. The media could—and should—be a catalyst for social debate and consensus that would redound to the promotion of public welfare. To do so, the media must provide citizens with the bases for arriving at informed opinions and decisions.
The PCIJ was set up to contribute to this end by promoting investigative reporting on current issues in Philippine society and on matters of large public interest. It does not intend to replace the work of individual newspapers or radio and television stations, but merely seeks to encourage the development of investigative journalism and to create a culture for it within the Philippine press.
The PCIJ funds investigative projects for both the print and broadcast media. It publishes books on current issues, produces video documentaries, and conducts seminar-workshops on journalism and public policy issues. The PCIJ also publishes www.pcij.org/blog, an institutional news and analysis blog; and Money Politics Online, a citizen’s resource, research, and analysis tool on elections, public funds, and governance in the Philippines.
In the 27 years since its founding, PCIJ has published over 1,000 investigative reports and over 1,000 other stories in major Philippine newspapers and magazines, produced five full–length documentaries and scores of documentaries for TV, and launched over two dozen books.
In addition, the PCIJ organizes training seminars, and offers the services of its journalism trainers, for news organizations in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
From 1990 to 2012, the Center has conducted over 120 training seminars for journalists, journalism teachers, and students in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Papua New Guinea, and other countries in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the South African subcontinent.
The PCIJ has won over 150 major awards, including nine National Book Awards, a Catholic Mass Media Award, and more than two dozen awards and citations from the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Investigative Journalism.
PCIJ stories make an impact. Well–researched and well–documented, these reports have contributed to a deeper understanding of raging issues, from politics to the environment, from health and business to women and the military.
Some of these reports have prodded government action on issues like corruption, public accountability and environmental protection. Still some other reports have triggered the transfer or resignation of senior public officials and justices, and formed part of the evidence in the impeachment, and eventual trial for plunder, of a Philippine president, Joseph Estrada.
In August 2009, the PCIJ published a series of investigative reports into the political favors and corruption that marred the awarding of over 27,000 road and civil–works contracts, and the prevalence of political appointees in middle– and senior–level executive positions.
In the May 2010 elections, the PCIJ conducted real-time audit reports on campaign expenditures by candidates for president and vice president, which in part prompted the Commission on Elections to clarify and strictly enforce election and campaign finance laws.
Since 2010, the PCIJ has produced a series of full-length and short documentaries for TV on the “Maguindanao Massacre” of 58 persons, including 32 journalists, as well as on other cases of media murders in the Philippines.
A founding member of the Access to Information Network (ATIN) and a member of The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition in the Philippines, the PCIJ has pioneered in asserting and indexing access to information practices of various government agencies, and co-led the public advocacy for the passage of a Freedom of Information Law by the Philippine Congress since 2002.
A founding member of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), the PCIJ has conducted most of the journalism skills and investigative reporting seminars for journalists in the open restricted democracies of the region, notably Burma, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
A founding member of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), the PCIJ coordinated, edited and published the Fact-Finding Mission Report of the FFFJ into the Maguindanao Massacre, which has been cited by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as “the most authoritative” thus published.
The PCIJ has been acknowledged as a model among independent media organizations in the report Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support, authored by investigative journalist David E. Kaplan. The report was published in December 2007 by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), United States (US).
Kaplan’s report was commissioned “to determine the size and strength of the field of investigative journalism and what types of assistance are needed to help the field expand. The report “explores the rapid growth of investigative journalism overseas and suggests ways to best support and professionalize its practice in developing and democratizing countries.”
As well, the PCIJ has been cited for its exemplary record in doing investigative reports and journalism training, as an independent media organization, in the publications of the Joan Shorenstein Center for Journalism — Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and in the 2008 edition of The Nieman Reports published by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
In December 2009, the PCIJ won two more institutional awards the Agence France-Presse’s Kate Webb Award for exceptional journalism work in difficult or dangerous circumstances, and the AJA Award for Press Freedom from the Asia Journalist Association (AJA), an organization of journalists from over 20 countries throughout Asia.
The government of France, in a message from the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, has cited the PCIJ thus:
“The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which was recently granted the 2009 AFP Kate Web Award, is an organisation which has pursued its investigative work with courage and tenacity for the past twenty years. France extends its warmest congratulations to the members of the PCIJ and to its director, Ms. Malou Mangahas, for this award, which honours its courageous work for the freedom of information.”
In 2012 and 2013, the PCIJ has been selected as a finalist in the Data Journalism Awards of The Global Editors Network, out of hundreds of applications received from countries across the globe.