As [whistleblowing] sites multiply, they will still need to deal with the challenges that Wikileaks and Cryptome have faced. They will need to find ways to effectively protect the identities of their sources, provide an adequate media platform, earn the trust of whistleblowers, weed out fabricated leaks, and avoid the wrath of corporations and governments. However, one thing is clear: the strong demand by readers and the media will make anonymous whistleblowing websites a permanent fixture in the future of investigative journalism. Cutting off services to one popular whistleblowing website will never be enough to keep truthful political information off the Internet.
Because of the range of the material and the very nature of diplomacy, the embassy cables were bound to be more explosive than the War Logs. Dean Baquet, our Washington bureau chief, gave the White House an early warning on Nov. 19. The following Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, Baquet and two colleagues were invited to a windowless room at the State Department, where they encountered an unsmiling crowd. Representatives from the White House, the State Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the F.B.I. and the Pentagon gathered around a conference table. Others, who never identified themselves, lined the walls. A solitary note-taker tapped away on a computer.
Investigative reporters in 2011 not only need to know all the basics, including how to crunch data, they also need to know how to tap into the crowd for information, funding and access to public and private sector documents. Imagine a Julian Assange in every state and major city in the US.
On the social web, investigative journalists are tapping citizens to take part in the process by scouring documents and doing shoe-leather reporting in the community. This is advantageous because readers often know more than journalists do about a given subject, said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University.
“That was always the case, but with the tools that we have today, that knowledge can start flowing in at relatively low cost and with relatively few headaches,” Rosen said. Rosen admits that we are just starting to learn how to do this effectively, but there are certainly some great experiments being done.
Talking Points Memo Muckraker had success with this approach by having its readers help sort through thousands of documents pertaining to the investigation of the U.S. Department of Justice’s controversial firing of seven United States attorneys in 2006. TPM provided clear instructions to its readers to cite specific documents that included something interesting or “damning.”…
…A similar example on a grander scale is that of The Guardian deploying its community to help dig through 458,832 members of parliament (MP’s) expense documents. They’ve already examined roughly half of those, thanks to the 27,270 people who participated. The Guardian rewarded community participants by creating a leader board based on the quantity and quality of their contributions and also highlighting some of the great finds by its members.
There’s what we know, what we think we know and what we can publish. You try to get the first and second categories into the third category.
Gene Warnick, sports editor, Los Angeles Daily News, on investigative journalism (via calebbenoit1)
Otherwise known as Rumsfeldian media analysis.