The following was written for three:d, the newsletter of MeCCSA, the Media Communications and Cultural Studies Association (PDF, page 9).
Something has happened to self-publishing over the past few years. No longer the last resort for local historians and wannabe poets, it is now a sign of entrepreneurial spirit, an alternative to the limitations of attention-starved journalism, and a way of kicking against the pricks of mainstream publishing. Self-published books have almost tripled in number over the last five years, with a number of authors making the bestseller lists. More than one in ten ebooks bought by UK readers is now self-published.
This year I finally joined that group, as I made a long-planned move away from writing for traditional publishers towards publishing my own ebooks. In fact, I published three. So what’s the appeal? Continue reading
In part one I outlined some of the data journalism processes involved in the Olympic torch relay investigation, in part 2 I explained how verification, SEO and ‘passive aggressive newsgathering’ played a role. This final part looks at how ebooks offered a new opportunity to tell the story in depth – and publish while the story was still topical.
Ebooks – publishing before the event has even finished
After a number of stories from a variety of angles I reached a fork in the road. It felt like we had been looking at this story from every angle. More than one editor, when presented with an update, said that they’d already ‘done the torch story’. I would have done the same.
But I thought of a quote on persistence from Ian Hislop that I’d published on the Help Me Investigate blog previously. “It is saying the same true thing again and again and again and again until the penny drops.”
Although it sometimes felt like we might be boring people with our insistence on continuing to dig we needed, I felt, to say the same thing again. Not the story of ‘Executive carries the torch’ but how that executive and so many others came to carry it, why that mattered, and what the impact was. A longform report. Continue reading
For the last two months I’ve been involved in an investigation which has used almost every technique in the online journalism toolbox. From its beginnings in data journalism, through collaboration, community management and SEO to ‘passive-aggressive’ newsgathering, verification and ebook publishing, it’s been a fascinating case study in such a range of ways I’m going to struggle to get them all down.
But I’m going to try. Continue reading