Tag Archives: Talking Points Memo

Has investigative journalism found its feet online? (part 2)

The first part of this serialised chapter for the forthcoming book Investigative Journalism: Dead or Alive? looked at new business models surrounding investigative journalism. This second part looks at how new ways of gathering, producing and distributing investigative journalism are emerging online.

Online investigative journalism as a genre

Over many decades print and broadcast investigative journalism have developed their own languages: the spectacular scoop; the damning document; the reporter-goes-undercover; the doorstep confrontation, and so on. Does online investigative journalism have such a language? Not quite. Like online journalism as a whole, it is still finding its own voice. But this does not mean that it lacks its own voice.

For some the internet appears too fleeting for serious journalism. How can you do justice to a complex issue in 140 characters? How can you penetrate the fog of comment thread flame wars, or the “echo chambers” of users talking to themselves? For others, the internet offers something new: unlimited space for expansion beyond the 1,000 word article or 30-minute broadcast; a place where you might take some knowledge, at least, for granted, instead of having to start from a base of zero. A more cooperative and engaged medium where you can answer questions directly, where your former audience is now also your distributor, your sub-editor, your source.

The difference in perception is largely a result of people mistaking parts for the whole. The internet is not Twitter, or comment threads, or blogs. It is a collection of linked objects and people – in other words: all of the above, operating together, each used, ideally, to their strengths, and also, often in relationship to offline media. Continue reading

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Umair Haque on ‘Nichepapers’

Umair Haque always talks intelligently about economics, and yesterday’s post ‘The Nichepaper Manifesto’ is well worth reading in full. Some choice quotes:

“Journalists didn’t make 20th century newspapers profitable — readers did. 20th century newspapers were never supernormally profitable because of what they wrote: it was the natural monopoly dynamics of classifieds that fueled massive margins.”

Note: those monopolies are going.

[Nichpapers reinvent what news is:] “Knowledge, not news. Newspapers strive to give people the news. Next stop, commodity central. Nichepapers strive to impart meaningful, lasting knowledge instead.

Commentage is the kid sister of reportage: it is the art of curating comments to have a dialogue with the audience — because the audience can fill gaps, plug holes, and thicken the foundations of knowledge. Many newspapers have comments — so what? Almost none are having a dialogue with commenters — who are mostly stuck in a twilight zone where they can only talk to one another. Nichepapers, in contrast, are always having deep dialogues with readers.

Note: this is because they understand that to do so is a) part of any good distribution strategy and b) delivers efficiencies in newsgathering.

Topics, not articles. That’s why Nichepapers develop topics — instead of telling quickly-forgotten stories. When Talking Points Memo exposed the Bush administration’s series of politically motivated firings, it did so in a series of posts, that let the story develop, surface, thicken, and climax. Stories are for information — topics are for knowledge.”

Note: Google likes topics better than articles, which is why a number of news websites are creating mini-sites around big stories and issues.

There’s a lot more in the full post, including 4 examples of ‘nichepapers’ currently operating, including Perez Hilton, Talking Points Memo and Huffington.

h/t Will Perrin

Blogs and Investigative journalism: fundraising

Part five of this draft book chapter looks at how blogs have changed the funding of journalism through their ability to attract reader donations, as well as other increasingly important sources such as licensing and foundations. I would welcome any corrections, extra information or comments.

Fundraising

Just as new media technologies are challenging publishing and distribution conventions, traditional business models have also been disrupted in a news industry which has, at least in the West, been facing declines in readership and advertising revenue for decades (Meyer, 2004). In this environment investigative journalism has been one of the first to suffer from cuts to staff and resources (Knightley, 2004; Outing, 2005; Freola, 2007), or to be targeted towards the more profitable areas of celebrity coverage.

In response to this decline in funding, blogs have offered a new way to finance investigative journalism. Continue reading

Blogs and Investigative Journalism: sourcing material

The third part of this draft book chapter (read part one here and part two here) looks at how blogs have changed the sourcing practices of journalists – in particular the rise of crowdsourcing – and provided opportunities for increased engagement. I would welcome any corrections, extra information or comments.

Sourcing material

While the opportunity that blogs provide for anyone to publish has undoubtedly led to a proliferation of new sources and leads – particularly “Insider” blogs produced by experts and gossips working within particular industries (Henry, 2007) and even ‘YouTube whistleblowers’ (Witte, 2006) – it is the very conversational, interactive and networked nature of blogs which has led journalists to explore completely new ways of newsgathering. Continue reading