OSINT Research: The Power of Open-Source Intelligence in Investigative Journalism


The art of investigative journalism has evolved over time, especially with the advent of technology. In the past, investigative journalists relied heavily on human intelligence (HUMINT) to gather confidential information and nurture sources. However, with the emergence of open-source intelligence (OSINT), journalists now have access to vast amounts of data from social networks and internet-connected devices. This has changed the landscape of investigative journalism and opened up new possibilities for uncovering hidden truths.

The Roots of OSINT

The roots of OSINT can be traced back to the practice of Computer Assisted Research (CAR), which involved exploring and analysing databases. This method allowed journalists to discover patterns and anomalies that could lead to new information. CAR gained prominence with the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act in the United States, which provided access to government workings. Philip Meyer, a pioneer of CAR, referred to it as “precision journalism” – using evidence to support assertions. This new methodology gave birth to a unique storytelling style that sets investigative journalism apart from conventional reporting.

The Methodology of Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism is not merely reactive or observational; it aims to challenge and disprove commonly held beliefs. Investigative journalists follow leads and collect evidence to support a hypothesis, such as uncovering lies or corruption. If the investigation fails to prove the supposition, it is abandoned. This hypothesis-based narrative replaces character-based or travelogue storytelling and relies heavily on evidence gathering.

The Rise of OSINT in Journalism

In the last decade, OSINT has gained prominence as a journalistic science. With the explosion of data on social networks and the Internet, journalists now have access to a wealth of information. Every minute, thousands of comments and photos are posted on platforms like Facebook, and millions of hours of content are uploaded to YouTube. Investigative journalism can now tap into these sources to uncover new truths. The challenge for filmmakers working with investigative content is to harmonise different sources and use computer-generated imagery to tell compelling stories.

The Role of Technology in Investigative Journalism

Advances in technology have revolutionised investigative journalism. Journalists now have access to complex computer-based tools like data mining programs and geographic information systems. Machine learning enables computers to analyse data much faster than humans, allowing investigative journalists to uncover insights and patterns that were once impossible to find. As technology continues to evolve, journalists must learn to harness these tools and understand the science of OSINT.

The Importance of OSINT and HUMINT

While OSINT has become an invaluable resource, it should not replace HUMINT. Investigative journalists still need human sources and must combine their skills in cultivating relationships and extracting value from the abundance of information available online. OSINT complements traditional methods of investigation and expands the possibilities for uncovering hidden information.


Open-source intelligence has transformed investigative journalism, providing journalists with a wealth of data to uncover new truths. The rise of technology has given birth to new storytelling methods and tools that assist journalists in gathering and analysing information. OSINT and HUMINT are not mutually exclusive but should be used in conjunction to maximise the effectiveness of investigative journalism. With the right skills and understanding of OSINT, journalists can continue to uncover hidden stories that shape our understanding of the world.

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more