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Investigative Journalism and Blogs

 

The following is a work in progress of a chapter for the book 'Investigative Journalism'. Please make any edits, changes, corrections, additions, etc. by clicking on 'Edit page' above and logging on with the password 'bij'.

 

Introduction

 

This chapter will look at the relationship between investigative journalism and blogs, beginning with a brief history of the technology and its journalistic uses, before exploring three areas where blogs and new media technologies have become important tools in investigative journalism: in sourcing material; in disseminating the results of fieldwork; and as a source of funding.

 

In the course of addressing these areas it is important to recognise the importance of blogging's history in shaping its contents, while being wary of falling into technological determinism. No technology is neutral, and all technologies have their own cultural histories that influence the content, cultures and uses that grow up around them - histories that are influenced by the actors that play a part in their development. This chapter provides a brief overview of those histories, while also recognising that the blog genre and technologies are still in flux.

 

Who gets to call themselves a journalist - and the value of 'amateurism' in reporting - has been a recurring theme during the rise of citizen journalism, and the second part of this chapter deals with that 'pro-am' debate, arguing that amateur bloggers perform an important role outside of the commercialised, bureaucratised work processes of professional journalists, while also noting how the blog form has been 'co-opted' by the mainstream media.

 

The section on sourcing looks at the rise of reader contributions and crowdsourcing as methods of gathering, refining and checking information - and notes the related potential for increased reader engagement from a journalistm that previously "reduced publics to spectators" (Bromley, 2005: 321). The section on publishing then looks at how the potentially limitless time and space of new media technologies have opened up new possibilities for publishing source material and escaping the time-bound nature of traditional news. It is argued that the conversational and iterative nature of new media technologies offers an opportunity to rebuild public trust in journalism through transparent working practices, while networked digital distribution technologies offer a way to circumvent censorship and build international audiences. At the same time, readers should be wary of falling into technologically determinist perspectives that herald an age where 'everyone is a journalist' or, indeed, no one is.

 

A final section looks at how the already creaking economic structures underpinning traditional journalism have been further weakened by new media technologies, and how investigative journalists are turning to the internet for new ways of funding - some directly through reader donations or sales of related products; others through foundations, advertising and licensing; most through a mix of all of the above. Finally, the conclusion addresses the strengths and weaknesses of investigative journalism in a new media age, and proposes that its future lies along a number of paths - but that ultimately the cultures of the newsroom and the boardroom will dictate what happens next - not the technology itself.

 

 

Blogging and journalism (also in Portuguese)

 

The amateur-professional debate (also in Portuguese)

 

Sourcing

 

Publishing

 

Fundraising

 

Conclusion

 

References

 

Unused

 

 

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