The main focuses of the work of Craig Shaw are the Turkish investigations for theblacksea.eu and European Investigative Collaborations. His investigative stories are published in leading European media. His high profile investigations include the “Offshore Secrets”, “Malta Files”, Football Leaks”… His proficiencies are: political and corporate corruption, human rights and organized crime.
First of all a practical question- did you have any doubts when you decided you wanted to become a journalist, you know, that it will be hard to find a job, that perhaps, you will have some kind of trouble, regarding your family, your wife? As one day you would like to have your own family….
Well no. When I studied journalism I did film journalism, I wanted to write about film. Then I realized that it was a difficult area to get involved with. And I changed it into investigative journalism. I had no concerns, I mean I was young. I am married now, I wasn’t married then. I don’t have children so… No I had no obstacle that I could see. There were concerns about the industry and whether you can get a job. But… No I was happy with the choice. Maybe not so much now, but yes.
Do you have any raw models regarding this connection between movies and journalism because in many instances movies were influencing journalism and vice versa? For e.g. my raw model is James Agee, the guy that for e.g. write the screenplay for “The Night of The Hunter” or for “The African Queen “of John Huston for which he won an Oscar.
No, I don’t think so, but I am a fan of those like the British eighties fields. Eighties TV in UK was pretty good. It was kind of reaction towards Thatcherism. So there was a lot of political conspiracy staff. That is really interesting to see how you can craft stories that maybe didn’t exist so much. So there is not one person but like anybody else I like complicated and interesting stories.
Why do you think that this particular generation which was so excellent, was destroyed- the one from the eighties. And I do think it was excellent. Once I interviewed Terry Jones and he told me that this happened because they weren’t doing as they were told, in other words they weren’t doing everything by the law. For e.g. there was a lot of violation of privacy regarding this. For e.g. the author of “Spitting Image” ended up in jail, 12 years, because in his show he spoke publicly about the fart of the husband of Barbra Streisand- quote: “At some time around midnight somebodies ass flew grunted.”
I think they let you for this… I think there is a bunch of reasons why people ended up there. There were more people, journalists who reacted more to sixties kind of revolutionary investigative journalism than the ones that touched the issue of Watergate. I think that was the bigger influence. But I guess it was the time, in the seventies and the eighties that this changed- when data was becoming more digital but at the same time more popular. In UK there was the introduction of new laws- Firstly regarding the intelligent services. I think it was just a changing time. We had a right wing government and over reach of the security state. And that was just a reaction. I think it was brief. So it got brief a-day when all these stories came out. This kind changed in the nineties again. But in general- yes it is so as you said.
Do you think that there is a good journalism by a default? The professional one, must be somehow subsidized by the state. I am afraid this is the case even in the most liberal economies. Perhaps with an exception of USA, but this is affordable for them because they have an enormous market. So tell us something about this referringto the civilization in Europe?
I don’t think states should directly fund journalism. I think you can have mechanisms where states can give money to organizations, decide where money goes… That can be OK. But I don’t think that any state should be directly involved in giving money because it ruins our credibility. I know that US does this with some organizations which is the reputational problem for the people who take it. So obviously it is not really in one’s interest or for the state to fund journalism particularly not against itself. But of course it happens that they fund foreign outlets. But I think it can work, just needs to be thought about a bit more.
What will you advice to your young colleagues, to the ones that are beginners, how can they break through?I am working here with the European Voluntary Agency, they work for nothing. Voluntarism is very important for the journalism. How would you describe this phenomenon? And in general what is your advice for the young generations? How can they become a success story?
I think that two things are important. First- you have to learn data bases, in a sense where can you access the information. So I came out of the University not knowing you could get court records, company records. I think it is really important you learn where to access this information in your home country first. Second- you have to read good journalism, written well. You have to practice writing. I think that if you can tell a story in an interesting way that can take you far. You have to read good writing. You know you should read “The New Yorker”, the “London Review of Books”, “The New York Review of Books”, try to read long form journalism and see how they tell a story. Cause they can teach you some bad habits at the university.
How can they break through voluntarism? First to volunteer, than to begin to know everybody around, to have experience and then to…
Well you have to make connections; to go places and meet people. You have to get to know people who can help you and you should put a limit on how much volunteer work you can do. I mean you always have to think what is in it for you? What do you get out of it? Because you don’t want to volunteer forever! You just have to really work hard. Like when I started I worked 7 days a week. I still do that some times. You know- 10, 12 hours a day.Because I wanted to be good in what I did. And you have to do that with you.
Interviewed and photographed by Igor Pop Trajkov