The Vereniging van Onderzoeksjournalisten (VVOJ) was founded in Amsterdam on February 26th, 2002. The initiators were Dutch and Flemish journalists that met each other at the first international conference on investigative journalism in Copenhagen, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2001.
Exchanging knowledge about methods of investigation, and the opportunities for building international networks during that conference were so inspiring to them that they wanted to organize a similar conference in the low countries. That first VVOJ conference in Utrecht, only seven months later, was attended by 220 journalists. Since then, the association hosted conferences in Antwerpen (2003), Rotterdam (2004), Amsterdam (2005, the third Global Investigative Journalism Conference), Mechelen (2006), Groningen (2007), Brussels (2008, the first European Investigative Journalism Conference), Utrecht (2009), Ghent (2010) and Eindhoven (2011). In 2012, the VVOJ Conference on Investigative Journalism will be the second European Investigative Journalism Conference, and will again travel to Antwerp, Belgium.
The VVOJ is not an association of ‘fancy horses’. The VVOJ currently has around 600 members. The association is founded on a ‘broad definition’ of investigative journalism. Investigative journalism is critical and in depth journalism.
The VVOJ wants to improve conventional investigative methods – like getting access to documents, interpreting annual reports and budgets, or management of sources and investigative projects – and introduce the latest research methods involving the use of information technology. The association organizes thematic evening sessions and all day training seminars, and publishes an annual anthology of investigative stories with explanations of methods and strategies by the authors, as well as research reports on the state of the journalism profession. In 2004 awards for investigative journalism (‘De Loep’) were introduced.
Besides this, the VVOJ wants to stimulate journalists of different media to cooperate on investigative projects too large for one medium. The association also seeks international cooperation. This may lead to better coverage of international news and to adding an international context to domestic news more often.