Behind the scenes investigating the Rotherham scandal

The skills and experience Andrew Norfolk developed through his NCTJ course were invaluable to investigating the Rotherham scandal.

The skills and experience Andrew Norfolk developed through his NCTJ course were invaluable to investigating the Rotherham scandal.

In September 2012, Andrew’s splash appeared in The Times telling the world that for more than 10 years girls were being pimped with impunity in Rotherham.

It was a substantial cover-up that involved a four year investigation, over 100 confidential documents and more than 1400 young girls.

Andrew said: “Investigating children being used as sex toys took over my life for four years and left no room for anything else.”

The skills he used to develop this story were picked up during his NCTJ studies and his traineeship on the Scarborough News. He claimed it took him a while to pick up shorthand but believes he would be “adrift” without it now.

He also felt the background knowledge he gained from law and public affairs has been vital for many of his investigations.

Andrew began his investigative career in Scarborough with an editor who pushed him to go out and find the nitty gritty stories. It allowed him to find his feet as a reporter and gave him a insatiable taste for investigative journalism.

While working for The Times he was given the time and space necessary to uncover the Rotherham scandal. He considers himself “incredibly lucky” to have been given the opportunity to investigate it as he was aware that many reporters could not be given this privilege because of reducing budgets and staff cuts.

One of the most important qualities he felt was needed to investigate this story was empathy as he was speaking to the victim’s about the “darkest stories” in their lives. This meant Andrew invested a lot of time and emotion into the story.

He said: “There were sometimes when I thought I cannot go on and then I would go into talk to my editor and would come out thinking I had to do it because it was so important to tell these stories.”

The editor of Rotherham's local newspaper Andrew Mosley, from The Rotherham Advertiser, has had to face the challenge of taking the story forward.

There was a history of child abuse in Rotherham documented by the paper but there had not been an awareness of the extent of the problem. More than 40 stories had been published by The Rotherham Advertiser over the years before the story became a national scandal.

In taking the story on he wanted to place particular emphasis on letting the community have their voice heard while also being considerate to the victims.

He said: “We wanted to be careful to help the victims move on which is perhaps overlooked by the media some of the time.”

While he believes there are still people in power that need to be held to account, he thinks the coverage from The Rotherham Advertiser has been hard hitting but compassionate and above all has allowed the people of Rotherham to have their say.

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