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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $19.95

280 pp.
15 b/w photographs, 6" x 9"


Publication date:
August 2011

Imprint: OUP Canada

Behind the Headlines

A History of Investigative Journalism in Canada

Cecil Rosner

Canadian investigative journalism has brought down governments, held powerful interests to account, infiltrated criminal networks, and exonerated the wrongly accused. Behind the Headlines presents the exciting history of investigative journalism in Canada in an account spanning from the nation's earliest newspapers through to the present day. Drawing on numerous case studies and examples, Cecil Rosner, a journalist with more than 30 years of experience, analyzes the evolution of investigative journalism in Canada and explores the development of specific practices within the context of changing social and historical forces. Rather than working through a straightforward chronology, Rosner uses a topic-based approach exploring wide-ranging and thought-provoking issues such as public broadcasting, commercialization of the press, alternative media, ethics, and the impact of technology. Highlighting key players and stories such as the sponsorship scandal and the Mulroney "Airbus Affair," Behind the Headlines provides fresh insight into this previously undocumented history.

A new Introduction to the paperback edition brings the book up to date, offering a current perspective on the shift from old to new media and ongoing efforts for media outlets to find financially sustainable revenue models. After the collapse of the CanWest empire and the rise of ProPulica and WikiLeaks, the turbulent media landscape is taking on a new form. What implications does this have for investigative journalism, not just in Canada, but around the world?

Readership : Engaging and readable, Behind the Headlines will appeal to anyone intrigued by the field of journalism and, more specifically, the power of investigative journalism. Students of any level and practicing journalists will take interest in the author's attention to investigative methodology.


  • Praise for Behind the Headlines:

    "Cecil Rosner has authored a much-needed history of investigative reporting in Canada. ... The work is an excellent reminder of what such reporting has meant in this country since before the country was born."

    --Literary Review of Canada
  • "Rosner's examples demonstrate what works: detailed research and revealing interviews, governed by scrupulous adherence to the facts."

    --Winnipeg Free Press
  • "An ambitious survey."

    --Canadian Historical Review
  • "A rollicking good read."

    --Christopher Dornan, Carleton University
  • "... a comprehensive exploration of the historical and philosophical foundations of journalism enlivened by colourful anecdotes from the struggles to report some of the hard stories of our time. It is a rich blend of scholarship and anecdote, a rare insight into the minds and motivations of people who report - and sometimes make - the commodity we call news."

    --Linden MacIntyre, award-winning author and host of CBC's the fifth estate
  • "In an era of superficial, celebrity-driven media, Cecil Rosner reminds us of what journalism can and should be. In this insightful and important book, Rosner alerts us to the crucial role journalism can play in challenging the powerful."

    --Linda McQuaig, author of Shooting the Hippo and It's the Crude, Dude
  • "A fascinating and largely untold story of a generation of rebels and reformers. Not only the definitive work on the subject but an exciting read."

    --Mark Starowicz, CBC Television

Introduction to the Paperback Edition
1. Bringing Down the Government
2. Origins
3. To the Modern Era
4. Bigger and Better Scoops
5. The Public Broadcasters
6. Out of the Mainstream
7. In Watergate's Wake
8. Robbers and Cops
9. Newsmagazine Wars
10. Dirty Tricks
11. Investigative Journalism Matures
12. Undercover, Hidden-Camera, and Gotcha Journalism
13. The Chilling Effect
14. Attacking the Messenger
15. Access to Information
16. Bringing Down a Former Government
17. Modern Tools

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Cecil Rosner teaches investigative journalism in the department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications at the University of Winnipeg. He has more than 30 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, and investigative journalism is his area of expertise. He has two Michener Awards and two Gemini Awards to his credit. Currently, he also is managing editor for television and radio for CBC Manitoba.

Watchdog Journalism - Stephen J. Berry
Investigative Reporting in Canada - Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky
Digging Deeper - Robert Cribb, Dean Jobb, David McKie and Fred Vallance-Jones

Special Features

  • Updated content. A new Introduction to the paperback edition touches on the contemporary issues facing the media industry.
  • Canadian focus. Numerous examples and case studies of Canadian journalism drawn from throughout history. Discusses trends in American and international journalism as they relate to journalism in Canada.
  • Current perspective. Provides fresh insights into events of the past decade, such as the sponsorship scandal and Airbus Affair.
  • Engaging, readable tone. Rosner's experience and talent as a journalist makes the history covered in this text both exciting and extremely readable.
  • Extensive research. The text draws from a rich variety of primary and secondary sources to analyze investigative journalism's evolution, explaining the development of the specific set of practices that make up the genre in the context of changing social and historical forces.
  • Comprehensive, topic-based coverage. Rather than working through a straightforward chronology, the text uses a topic-based examination of history, exploring wide-ranging and thought-provoking issues such as public broadcasting, commercialization of the press, alternative media, ethics, and the impact of technology.
  • Excellent historical coverage. Covers trends and major events in Canadian investigative journalism from mid-nineteenth century to present.