Posts tagged Investigative Reporting

To many people, watchdog reporting is synonymous with investigative reporting, specifically, ferreting out secrets. But there’s another, maybe even more crucial form of watchdog reporting, especially in this age of relentless public relations and spin. It involves reporting what may well be in plain sight, contrasting that with what officials in government and other positions of power say, rebuffing and rebutting misinformation, and sometimes even taking a position on what the facts suggest is the right solution.

Daniel Froomkin, Truth or Consequences: Where is Watchdog Journalism Today?, Nieman Reports

The piece includes these words of words of wisdom from Murrey Marder, former Washington Post reporter and founder of the Nieman Watchdog Project:

Watchdog journalism is by no means just occasional selective, hard-hitting investigative reporting. It starts with a state of mind, accepting responsibility as a surrogate for the public, asking penetrating questions at every level, from the town council to the state house to the White House, in corporate offices, in union halls and in professional offices and all points in-between.

From the FJP Archives: Findings from the work of active watchdog groups Media Matters and Freedom House.

Foundations, Funding and Investigative Journalism

The Fund For Investigative Journalism issues a number of grants each year to provide resources for “projects relating to government accountability, economic inequities, and environmental issues in the United States.”

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Sandy Bergo, the Fund’s Executive Director, about the type of applicants they’re looking for, the role foundations play in funding investigative journalism and how younger journalists can break into the field. The interview here lasts about 10 minutes.

Today is actually the deadline for one such round (see here and here). Average grants run about $5,000 and are typically used for travel, document collection and equipment rental.

If you don’t have a proposal right now, keep an eye on their schedule. As said, they issue multiple grants a few times a year for journalists in all stages of their careers. — Michael

UPDATE: The application deadline for this round of grants has been extended to Monday, March 18 at 5pm.

I.F. Stone Award Open for Applications

The Investigative Fund is accepting applications for its fall 2012 I.F. Stone Award for emerging journalists.

Background:

Twice a year, in the fall and spring, The Investigative Fund will accept investigative proposals from young and emerging reporters, or reporting teams, and will select one or two I.F. Stone Award winners. Winners of the I.F. Stone Award will receive funding to cover the reporting costs of their project, up to a maximum of $10,000; editorial guidance from Investigative Fund editors; access to such subscription services as Nexis and Accurint; and assistance with placement of the investigation in a print, online, or broadcast outlet…

…With the I.F. Stone Award, The Investigative Fund will create a pathway for emerging journalists to publish or air their first or early-career investigations. We hope the award will not only cultivate diverse journalistic talent, but help ensure that investigative reporting continues to be responsive to a broad and eclectic audience.

Deadline for applications is November 30. Application and more information found here.

The Investigative Fund is a project of the Nation Institute.  

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) to launch investigative news channel on YouTube, with Knight support

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) announced today it will launch a new investigative news channel on YouTube that will be a hub of investigative journalism, with $800,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

CIR, the non-profit investigative reporting organization that has produced numerous award-winning investigations, will curate the YouTube channel, which is expected to launch in July 2012. Journalists will be trained in audience engagement and other best practices for online video. The Investigative News Network (INN) will also be responsible for working with its member organizations to leverage the channel to reach new audiences and increase the amount of earned revenue to subsidize their public interest journalism.

We don’t have a content crisis; we don’t have a news crisis; we have an accountability reporting crisis.
Steven Waldman, Senior Advisor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and author of a recent FCC report on media in the digital age. Boston Herald, FCC official: Investigative journalism on life support.
Investigative journalism is not cheap,” Sullivan says. Investigative reporting units require a higher caliber of personnel. In addition, they don’t produce the same number of stories as reporters dedicated to daily coverage. “It’s quality over quantity.

TVNewsCheck reports that Scripps television is bringing investigative journalism back to the news room. Pioneering this effort is Bob Sullivan, Scripps Television VP of Content, who recognizes the importance of watch dog journalism to an informed society.

While adding investigative reporters to the newsroom, Scripps also sent 64 employees — such as producers, multimedia reporters and traditional print reporters — to June’s annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference. 

Says IRE’s Mark Horvit on the significance of Scripps commitment to investigative reporting,”We’re still not where we were several years ago, and we are certainly not where we need to be, but there are positive and hopeful trends and a lot of great work being done.”

Diana Marszalek, TVNewsCheck, Scripps Bucks Investigative Reporting Trend.

Today’s honor caps a series of awards for ProPublica this year, including two George Polk Awards, one for radio (with NPR) for our series on brain injuries to our troops, another for television (with Frontline) for our reporting on police violence in New Orleans after Katrina; a National Magazine Award finalist nod for our story on dialysis facilities; the American Society of News Editors Batten Medal for sustained reporting on the New Orleans police story; two Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, one for the dialysis story and accompanying database, the other for innovation for our “Dollars for Docs” series; and two awards from the Society for News Design for our news applications.

Paul Steiger, Editor in Chief, ProPublica, writing today about the non-profit’s Pulitzer win for National Reporting. ProPublica reporters  Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein won the award for a series on Wall Street bankers who enriched (or tried to) themselves at the expense of their clients and — in some cases — their firms.

This is the first time a digital only series has won the Pulitzer.

Congratulations to an exceptional organization for showing what a non-profit can do in journalism.

Journalists increasingly use visualization techniques to map out relationships between people, companies and government agencies they’re investigating.
The goal is to be able to step back and see who knows who, what the relationships are and what type of influence actually exists in those relationships. The practice is encouraging but does have its issues.
As OWNI’s Nicolas Kayser-Bril explains:

Network analysis has become a popular topic in several newsrooms. Channel 4 produced Who Knows Who, a database of relationships linking British personalities. In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post launched Who Runs HK?, a similar project. These interfaces, although run by journalists, remain closed, and cannot be linked to open formats.
On the geekier side, Little Sis is another database of relations. It’s collaborative, open and has its own API. 57,000 people appear in there, with close to 300,000 connections. The only problem that remains is the bits of information in Little Sis are not validated and only an alert mechanism (flagging) allows for fighting disinformation. Given the sensibility of such a project, it is very likely that lobbyists will take over and, at some point, game the system.

So what to do? How about create your own? And make it Open Source.
OWNI teamed up with Transparency International, Zeit Online and Obsweb (Metz University) to develop Influence Networks, a self-described “open-source, collaborative directory of relationships between people, institutions and companies. Each relation has its own level of trustworthiness, so that facts can be distinguished from noise.”
The code-savvy among us can download the source over on GitHub. The rest of us can use the collaboration’s install at InfluenceNetworks.org.
For details on how all this works, check Kayser-Bril’s post announcing the launch. In it, he gives examples of how it can be used, and how the information submitted to it is verified.

Journalists increasingly use visualization techniques to map out relationships between people, companies and government agencies they’re investigating.

The goal is to be able to step back and see who knows who, what the relationships are and what type of influence actually exists in those relationships. The practice is encouraging but does have its issues.

As OWNI’s Nicolas Kayser-Bril explains:

Network analysis has become a popular topic in several newsrooms. Channel 4 produced Who Knows Who, a database of relationships linking British personalities. In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post launched Who Runs HK?, a similar project. These interfaces, although run by journalists, remain closed, and cannot be linked to open formats.

On the geekier side, Little Sis is another database of relations. It’s collaborative, open and has its own API. 57,000 people appear in there, with close to 300,000 connections. The only problem that remains is the bits of information in Little Sis are not validated and only an alert mechanism (flagging) allows for fighting disinformation. Given the sensibility of such a project, it is very likely that lobbyists will take over and, at some point, game the system.

So what to do? How about create your own? And make it Open Source.

OWNI teamed up with Transparency International, Zeit Online and Obsweb (Metz University) to develop Influence Networks, a self-described “open-source, collaborative directory of relationships between people, institutions and companies. Each relation has its own level of trustworthiness, so that facts can be distinguished from noise.”

The code-savvy among us can download the source over on GitHub. The rest of us can use the collaboration’s install at InfluenceNetworks.org.

For details on how all this works, check Kayser-Bril’s post announcing the launch. In it, he gives examples of how it can be used, and how the information submitted to it is verified.

Without much notice, some dedicated editors, reporters, news entrepreneurs and sponsors are refusing to lament the collapse of an industry. Instead, working from a nonprofit model, they have for decades been breaking important stories, and in just the last few years have made striking gains in numbers, recognition and impact.

Great reporting is still being done by the traditional media, but there is very little of it. It is the nonprofit model… that shows the most promise. More than anything else I can think of, it will serve — is already serving — to hold leaders accountable and keep important issues in public view.

Nonprofit news organizations are important in another respect. The Watergate era made many people see journalism as honest, worthwhile work. They don’t today. The nonprofit model, as it grows and strengthens and stays independent, could bring that spirit back and draw bright, idealistic young people into the profession.

And wouldn’t that be nice.

Barry Sussman, Editor, Nieman Watchdog Project, on the role of nonprofits in investigative journalism.
People from the digital world are always saying we don’t need journalists at all because information is everywhere and there in no barrier to entry. But these documents provide a good answer to that question. Even though journalists didn’t dig them out, there is a great deal of value in their efforts to explain and examine them. Who else would have had the energy or resources to do what these news organization have done?
Nicholas Lemann, Dean, Columbia University School of Journalism, on the role of news organizations in the age of WikiLeaks.