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View Full Version : Financing, Crowd-Sourcing & The Future of Investigative Journalism



Ed Jewett
05-10-2010, 06:27 AM
A Collection from the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (http://www.gijc2010.ch/) in Geneva…

Here, you can see the video of Stephen Engelberg.
On Saturday, he talked about the way to finance investigative journalism.
Stephen Engelberg founded ProPublica, an organism which won the Pulitzer price in 2010. He gave his conference with David Kaplan, from the Center for Public Integrity, in the USA. The moderator was Margo Smit, from the Dutch-Flemish Association for Investigative Journalism.
http://www.gijc2010.ch/en/home/86-video-engelberg



There is very much a future in internet journalism

The GIJC had the honour of starting the day with a presentation from Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of the non-profit media organisation, ProPublica. The session sought to discuss ProPublica’s structure as perhaps a possible future business model for investigative journalism. However, with contributions from David Kaplan and Brant Houston, it is still very much apparent that there remains a big question mark as to future journalism business models, and how and where investigative journalism will take place.
ProPublica

Engelberg begins by explaining that before one can even begin to discuss ProPublica’s case, it is important to know that in American law, you can receive a tax deduction when donating money to non-profit organisations. This in itself is already an enticing tool for prospective donors and supporters. Then comes the question of business: how will it run? Where will they find the revenue? Well ProPublica has been extremely fortunate in that it received revenue from an American couple that offered the following guarantee: that they would not interfere in any way with editorial content. Lucky and rare. But as Engelberg points out, no matter how generous or wealthy a donor is, you must not be dependent on a single revenue.
Key philosophies



Pro Publica’s aim is to create distinctive and important journalism. To find stories that generates change. There is a hunger for quality, in-depth journalism; however there is a problem of funding. How can this be solved?
Hybrid funding by looking for various streams of revenue and small donations
Possible future advertising revenue for the web, though one wants to be careful about what advertising they take, so as not to become too dependent.
“Steal our stories”: every story on the site can be used by any other publication as long as it is published in its entirety, as it is available under the Creative Commons License, free of charge.
Keeping the website dynamic with current and fresh information, as well as larger, in-depth reports.

Future predictions

Engelberg expressed an uncertainty about the future. He stated the following: « I have the conviction that journalists are really quite good at describing the distant past. The further we get from the past, the better of a chance we get to understand it. Yet, we are mediocre in chronicling what is happening in the present, and even worse at predicting the future. » There remains then a concern about the sustainability of non-profit organization as journalism business models, but Engelberg remains optimistic. In this digital age, « there very much is a future in internet journalism. » We are in the midst of a new delivery system. What then remains to be seen is how will this shape future journalism and how will the web affect the press.

http://www.gijc2010.ch/en/home/85-stephen-engelberg



Is crowdsourcing the future of journalism?

Crowdsourcing is a research method that consists of delegating tasks to a network of internet users using their knowledge to create large amounts of data. Het Nieuwsblad (http://www.nieuwsblad.be/), the second most sold Dutch newspaper in Belgium with a circulation of 260,000 copies, put this project forward three years ago in order to create more involvement with its readers. One of the journalists of this newspaper, Jana Wuyts, explained us what this project is exactly.
One of the main projects consisted of appealing to Belgians favorite hobby; cycling. Readers were asked to submit comments, videos or images about the best and worse biking path within Belgium. 20,000 people participated in the conversation posting 950 images in addition to the government allocating 1 million Euros to improve poor cycling paths.
Another success is the “rate your mayor” project, where over 140,000 people rated their respective municipalities mayors and results were linked into Google maps, besides creating a Facebook application (http://idealegemeente.nieuwsblad.be/j/survey/18/icompare/intro) concluding what kind of mayor the reader is.
Het Nieuwsblad hires 175freelancers, who are the eyes and ears of the over 300 communes the publication addresses in 307 dedicated micro sites. These local journalists are trained and equipped with an ethical code to assure high quality content, combining local knowledge with objective information and above all capturing what really interest the local crowd. The online version of the daily counts with over 52 million page views a month and it’s now the second largest news site in Belgium.
DO’s



Define what is the goal and target of your project?
Make a simple and clear question, which is relevant for your readers
Use your existing database and expand it by means of the project for further use
Filter input: a good crowd sourcing project combines amateur’s input with professional expertise to check the facts and assure objectivity.
Use social platforms such as Youtube or Facebook, where your project can spread and extend its life cycle even if the project is over.
Consider cooperation with associations or other organizations for database for example.
A prize might increase participation
Be transparent: Always show numbers of participations to show the success, relevance and importance of the addressed questions.
Be prepared to answer: if you put forward a question, answer reader’s question when they ask you.

DON’Ts



Don’t go technical as this makes readers lose interest
Don’t forget using a local approach, using local relevant topics
Don’t expect people will send through multimedia content such as videos or images
Don’t make a long scientific study, it’s supposed to be fun!
Don’t allow people posting uncontrolled content

http://www.gijc2010.ch/en/home/89-crowdsourcing

http://www.gijc2010.ch/

Jan Klimkowski
05-10-2010, 05:30 PM
Ed - thanks for posting.

The sad reality is that investigative journalism does not pay a living wage. It does not put food on the table or pay for a bed to sleep in.

Investigative journalists either need patronage - with all the risks that such a relationship implies.

Or a non-journalistic job which pays the unavoidable bills whilst leaving enough time and energy for the investigative journalist to crack the story.

It's not a healthy situation.

David Guyatt
05-10-2010, 06:08 PM
Ed - thanks for posting.

The sad reality is that investigative journalism does not pay a living wage. It does not put food on the table or pay for a bed to sleep in.

Investigative journalists either need patronage - with all the risks that such a relationship implies.

Or a non-journalistic job which pays the unavoidable bills whilst leaving enough time and energy for the investigative journalist to crack the story.

It's not a healthy situation.

Amen to that sad reality Jan.

Been there, done that, couldn't affordthe t-shirt but ate the baked beans instead. :ciao: