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May 4, 2016updated 31 May 2016 4:13pm

Former investigations editor on why there is life after being ‘banged out’ of journalism (and not just in PR)

By Jason Lewis

As journalists around the world have been finding out to their cost over the last few years, when the axe falls it can be fairly brutal.

The swingeing cuts that are ravaging our industry as it deals with the financial realities of the “digital first” approach, feel really personal when you are the latest victim of the movement away from “traditional media”.

As an experienced investigative reporter on the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph with some pretty big stories under my belt, I naively thought I was immune.

“Content is king”, in the brave new world of digital journalism, they said, so when the call came to go up to HR it was something of a shock.

However, for those dealing with that same sinking feeling as you watch colleague after colleague being “banged out”, let me attempt to reassure you.

Of course, I still miss the buzz of pursuing a front page exclusive, but, to my surprise, I discovered that journalists do have highly marketable, real world skills, much in demand in the jobs market, and not just as public relations advisers.

While many of my friends and former colleagues have taken the well-trodden path to PR, there are plenty of other options.

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The skills we often take for granted: the ability to analyse and digest large quantities of information; persuading people to talk to us; asking incisive questions; and conveying what we learn in an interesting, concise and accurate way, are rare commodities.

For me the answer to the question: “So what are you going to do now?” was in my contacts book. A source of stories while I was a journalist was the so-called Corporate Intelligence industry, which had quietly provided wonderful tales of international intrigue and financial malpractice, featuring a host of colourful characters.

After redundancy from my role as investigations editor at the Sunday Telegraph in 2013, I tapped up some of my sources and landed a job with K2 Intelligence, founded by Jules Kroll, the doyen of the industry.

I’m now running a team doing some fascinating work, chasing international fraudsters, preparing multi-million pound legal cases, tracking down stolen assets and teasing out hidden back stories on huge corporate deals and the individuals behind them.

Our clients are international corporations, law firms, hedge funds, banks, wealthy business owners, and even leading football clubs, all wanting in-depth knowledge about their rivals, proposed partners, financial backers or those who have stolen from them, defrauded them or damaged their reputations.

Day-to-day my work is not very different from what I have always done: searching out background material and documents to build a story around an individual or organisation; instructing stringers in different parts of the world; finding potential sources and talking to them.

Jason Lewis is managing director, disputes and complex investigations, for K2 Intelligence

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