The Vereniging van Onderzoeksjournalisten (Association of Investigative Journalists, hereafter VVOJ) was founded in Amsterdam on February 26, 2002. The initiators, Dutch and Flemish journalists who met during the first international conference on investigative journalism, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2001, in Copenhagen. They found the exchange of knowledge about investigation methods and the opportunity to build an international network so inspiring, that they wanted to organise a similar conference in the Low Countries.
The initiators realised that it is necessary to have an association in order to host a conference: for liability reasons, but als to bring journalists together who are willing to take part in the organisation of the conference. An association would also help to attract participants and sponsors. But the main reason was the ambition of the founders to stimulate investigative journalism in the long run.
The founders were afraid that immediately organising an international conference would be too big a job for a start-up association. So they decided to start with a Dutch-Flemish one. It was held in November 2002 in Utrecht (Holland). The conference attracted 220 participants. The conclusion of the VVOJ board: the VVOJ is ready for “the big one”. At the second Global Investigative Journalism Conference, May 2003 in Copenhagen, the VVOJ applied to host the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2005. And got it.
In the following years (2003-2010), the VVOJ annually organised the Dutch-Flemish Investigative Journalism Conference, alternating between Belgium and the Netherlands and with an average attendance of 250 participants. In 2005, the third Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Amsterdam drew 465 journalists from 51 countries for four days of inspiration, perspiration, networking, tips, tricks and training sessions.
All of the VVOJ work is done by volunteers (except for a director, office manager and two web editors, all of them part-time),
VVOJ’s money comes from membership fees and sponsorships only.
Over the last years, the VVOJ saw a growing need to focus a conference on Europe, the European institutions, and cross border European investigative journalism. Since over 70 percent of our rules and regulations stem from “Europe as a whole”, no one, no matter how small the paper or how local the radio station, can deny the importance of Europe and its institutions.In 2008, VVOJ organized the first European Investigative Journalism Conference in Brussels. In 2012, the second edition of this event will be held in Antwerp.