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62. Investigative Reporters Lack Resources (2006)

62. Investigative Reporters Lack Resources (2006)

The Sandler foundation believed so strongly in the failings of investigative journalism that they started up an organization, and put $10 million a year into it just to see that it continues. Why are they so sure that this problem exists?

This 2006 article from Chelsea Ide and Kanupriya Vashisht explains,

” ‘The reporters themselves are doing a good job, especially with computer-assisted reporting,’ said Jon Marshall, adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a freelance reporter. ‘Unfortunately, the media corporations aren’t giving the time and resources that they did 20 and 25 years ago.’ ”

Thirty-seven percent of newspapers had no full-time investigative or projects reporter on their staffs. The majority had two or fewer, and only 10 newspapers had four or more investigative or projects reporters working for them.

In addition, 61 percent of the newspapers had no investigative or projects team. Of those, 16 percent had teams in the past, but they have been disbanded. Sixty-two percent of the newspapers surveyed did not have a single editor specifically charged with working on investigations.

This is in 2006, with 25% of the jobs created since 2001 being terminated by the end of 2009, how many of the investigative journalists that remain will be cut? What’s most interesting about this is that if you look back to some of the ways to save journalism that were mentioned in earlier segments you will find that one of the things that comes up most often is finding a way to commoditize the one thing that newspapers can still trump bloggers at, investigative reporting.

The problem seems to be myopia. In order to survive in their current state, costs need to be cut and revenue needs to be maximized. If you believe that the news print model functions in its current state, letting go of these reporters is the most prudent course of action, however, there is good reason to believe that news print cannot survive in its current state and that instead of cutting away at what makes them unique, newspapers should be spending their time and effort trying to discover how to use their strengths to generate revenue, to take what they do best and package it in a way that will make sense for consumers.

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