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Reporting for an ideal: IDL-Reporteros, investigative journalism in Peru

April 8th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism


Independent investigative reporting projects seem to be on the rise, especially in developing nations. Gustavo Gorriti is an experienced Peruvian journalist who decided to establish an independent team of investigative journalists, with a mission to “report, investigate, uncover and publish the events and subjects that hurt the rights, property and the destiny of people“.

Peru is a democracy with a high level of corruption, and Gorriti set out to put journalism at citizens’ disposal and make the powerful accountable. The result? IDL-Reporteros. Jacqueline Fowks is part of this team and she explained to Journalism.co.uk why projects like this are so important.

[JF] The audience is still expecting investigative journalism stories today, the role of the press as a watchdog has not disappeared yet. In Peru – as in most Latin American countries – newspapers publish less investigative stories every day and the investigative teams decline or vanish. As global investments increase – and as state corruption climbs to higher levels in Peru (in concessions, mining, energy and public infrastructure) – there is an urgent need to dig deeper.

Why does it take an independent enterprise to do it? Has mainstream media pulled itself out of the game?

[JF] Even though polls demonstrate that there is a massive rejection of politicians, news media do not necessarily follow, investigate and report about corruption. Investigating corruption takes a lot of time and some amount of resources: most newsrooms decide not to invest on it, some lack staff and resources. Others just do not want to make politicians and companies accountable.

IDL-Reporteros started in October 2009 with a team of two and it is backed financially by the Open Society Institute, a foundation that promotes democracy and human rights-supporting initiatives that help shaping public policies and fight corruption and rights abuses. In January 2010 the whole team was completed and now they have four reporters/writers, an administrative assistant, an IT assistant and the director.

According to Fowks, “each reporter works on two or three stories at once. Some of the themes require additional support of a colleague, especially when there is a need to update promptly. The director monitors – very closely – the progress of each story.”

There is no print edition, so all the stories are published on the website. Feedback so far on the initiative has been quite good.

“There have been important and supporting comments every time we publish a special feature story in our website. Similar comments have appeared on Twitter and on our Facebook wall. The Peruvian mass media has also echoed and covered the stories IDL-Reporteros launched,” says Fowks.

Fowks believes journalism is a cornerstone to democracy even if others feel it’s “inconvenient”: “Some public officials and public servants do not like us much, but we can’t expect to make friends in this job.”

Profile

IDL-Reporteros

Country: Peru

Website: http://www.idl-reporteros.pe/

Twitter: @IDL_Reporteros

Description: Independent investigative journalism

Staff: Four reporter-writers, an administrative assistant, an IT assistant and the director.

Funding: IDL-Reporteros receives a grant from the Open Society Institute.

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Journalism Daily: Council newspapers, INMA/OPA event and more editorial outsourcing

August 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism Daily

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features:

Ed’s picks:

Tip of the day:

#FollowJourn:

On the Editors’ Blog:

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Journalism: an aspiration solely for the elite?

July 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

The all-party report led by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, has triggered a nationwide debate on issues of social mobility and whether social class divides can be overcome to provide equal career opportunities to all. Journalists found their profession branded ‘one of the most exclusive middle-class professions’. The industry was urged to provide financial support to interns from less wealthy backgrounds and adopt a best practice code.

Media organisations were accused of recruiting trainee journalists for internships for as long as one year, without payment, as a means of filling staffing gaps instead of providing appropriate training. The unpaid placements automatically filtered out students to only those who could afford the experience, usually middle class ones, or those willing to incur massive debts.

  • The National Union of Journalists immediately welcomed the outcomes of the report and heralded the best practice code for internships as ‘a first step in tackling bogus work experience‘. The union has been campaigning for years against exploitation of work experience placements, proposing the payment of a minimum wage to students on training. Speaking in a release issued earlier in the week, the NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said that the report ‘shows how the use of unpaid internships has undermined the diversity of our profession’. “Too many employers see internships as a way of getting work done for free, without any thought towards their responsibilities to provide would-be journalists with a learning opportunity.”
  • In his Guardian blog, Roy Greenslade talked about his humble beginnings as a working-class journalist, alongside others of the same social class at regional newspapers until he was struck by the class divide between the middle-class broadsheets and the working-class tabloids in Fleet Street. Although boundaries are now less obvious between the papers, higher tuition fees at universities meant education was dearer, and less accessible. As journalism became increasingly popular in the 1990s, degree holders were preferred over school-leavers, starting the unfair selection process which favoured the middle class.

A report in 2006 by the Sutton Trust [PDF at this link] showed that more than half of editorial posts at leading national newspapers had been educated at private schools, that is to say, middle class. As middle-class senior editors tend to appoint others like themselves, birds of a different, less privileged feather cannot find a way into the flock.

The Milburn report also pointed out that ‘qualification inflation’ is a barrier towards equal social opportunities. If once an academic degree or an MA were considered desirable for a career in journalism, some people, such as Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford, believe it is not the case any more as theoretical courses often do not provide the practical skills needed in a ‘real’ newsroom.

Degrees do not come cheap. Whereas a full-time MA at City University will set back an aspiring journalist by £8,000, a number of institutions offer NCTJ-accredited courses of much shorter length.

The Brighton Journalist Works, for instance, offers a 10-week fast-track course leading to a Certificate in Production Journalism for £3,600. Journalist Works MD Paula O’Shea, who set it up in April 2007 in The Argus’ Brighton offices, says the course is intense as it exposes students to as many hours as they would in an academic year on an MA, but graduates had landed jobs at The Argus, Johnston Press, Time Out, local TV stations and B2B magazines.

There is recourse for students who could not afford the fast-track course: “Our course is accredited by the Learning and Skills Council, so students can apply for a career development loan (www.direct.gov.uk) or the Journalism Diversity Fund (www.journalismdiverstityfund.co.uk),” says O’Shea.

A lack of diversity in news media could pose a problem for journalism, says Charlie Beckett, director of the journalism think-tank Polis. “If the news media is not diverse then it will not reflect the wider population,” he says in his blog.

“At a time of crisis in the industry and the wider economy, that is not a good thing economically, let alone politically.”

Here is Beckett, interviewed on Channel 4 News:

Useful links:

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What did Walter Cronkite think about online journalism?

July 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

On Monday, The Washington Post hosted a live Q&A with Marlene Adler, former chief of staff to Walter Cronkite, the much-respected news anchorman who died last week, aged 92. WashingtonPost.com users put questions about his career to her. What would Cronkite have thought of the internet and its impact on journalism, they wondered. Adler said that Cronkite would have adapted easily to online journalism, but that he was worried about internet source attribution.

Full Q&A at this link…

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview (Hat-tip: StinkyJournalism):

Chevy Chase, Md (…) “How did Mr. Cronkite feel about technology in general, and specifically as it relates to news and the demise of newspapers”

Marlene Adler: (…) “He loved the new technology, (the Internet) but also saw the problems with reliability of news delivery. He was concerned that news sources on the Internet were not attributable and worried that it would further diminish trust in the news media.

“About newspapers disappearing, he was sad indeed. He was a newspaper man first and loved that part of his life and that business. He was incredulous that entire cities could be without a newspaper.”

Washington, D.C.: “A friend was supposing that she thought Cronkite would have more easily adapted to online journalism because of his work for UPI. What were his thoughts about balancing speed and accuracy, and did he really think it was much different from what countless wire reporters have done for years?”

Marlene Adler: “As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources. I, too, think he would easily have adapted to online journalism.”

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MinOnline: Five online pay models worth watching

July 14th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

MinOnline looks beyond the obvious and selects five online paid model case studies from news media and non-news media, including the American Patchwork and Quilting Inner Circle Club’s bonus initiative and BHG: Decorating Inspiration’s ‘event’ packages.

Full article at this link…

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Charlie Beckett: Politics, PR and news media – all losing trust of the public

June 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Charlie Beckett, POLIS director and author of SuperMedia, looks at the relationship between politics, PR and news media. They’ve got one thing in common he says. They’re all losing the trust of the public.

Some of his concluding thoughts:

“This does not mean that there is no difference between politicians, PR and journalism. I think that it is important to have some robust, critical scepticism between all three. But we all three inhabit a networked world.”

And:

“All organisations are becoming media organisations. In an Information Age the public expect us to be transparent and responsive. This is what we can do through new media technologies and practices. The public has shown immense enthusiasm for a networked world, it is about time the rest of us joined in.”

Full post at this link…

Charlie Beckett is part of the Journalism.co.uk ‘Best of the Blogs’ mix. Follow here, and email judith at journalism.co.uk with recommendations for inclusion.

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Currybet.net: Regulation, news media and election coverage

June 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Martin Belam highlights an interesting comparison in yesterday’s UK media coverage of polling day: while the BBC suspended news blog comments entirely; the Sun touted its radio station as one of the only places that would be talking about politics on the day of the elections.

The BBC must adhere to its editorial guidelines on balance/political debate (see section 4.1), while SunTalk is self-regulated by the PCC.

“[W]hat does this tell us about our regulatory framework in a converged digital media landscape?” writes Belam.

“Can it be right that ‘a newspaper with a website broadcasting radio’ can behave differently on election day from ” radio station with a website publishing text’? And come the next General Election, will we be talking about how ‘It’s SunTalk Wot Won It’?

Full post at this link…

More from Journalism.co.uk on UK media regulation in the digital age:

UK media regulation – what’s the future?

Ofcom: Where does it stand on internet regulation?

BeatBlogging.Org: ‘UK news regulation stands in the way of newsroom convergence’

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Online Journalism Blog: ‘How the web changed the economics of news’

June 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

I’ll give you the headlines from Paul Bradshaw’s excellent, detailed post on how the web has changed the economics of all news media.

  1. Atomisation of news consumption
  2. Measurability
  3. Mutually conflicting business models
  4. Reduced cost of newsgathering and production
  5. End of scarcity of time and space
  6. Devaluation of certain types of journalism
  7. The end of monopolies
  8. Cutting out middlemen
  9. Creating new monopolies
  10. Digitisation and convergence
  11. The rise of the PR industry
  12. A new currency

Better still, read the full post at this link…

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Thomson Reuters gets social with Gordon Brown

October 13th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Multimedia

Thomson Reuters went all out this morning in its coverage of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech at the company’s London office.

First off the organisation’s own coverage: the Newsmaker event was twittered by Reuters journalist Mark Jones, whose updates were fed into a special microsite.

There was also video of the PM’s announcement originally livestreamed on Reuters’ website – including a handy dropdown menu that lets you skip through the clip to different key moments.

A full transcript and text article of the speech have also been published on the site.

But in addition to Reuters’ own reporting on the event was live footage streamed using mobile phones and hosting service Qik by social media bloggers Documentally and Sizemore.

“With Gordon Brown due to start talking on the present economic crisis what can two beardy blokes with a few laptops and small cameras possible hope to add?

“Well nothing directly on what is about to be said. I have as much interest in current politics as I did in marketing movies. I’m here with Christian [Documentally] to start conversations around the NewsMaker event that are currently not part of Reuter’s remit,” wrote Mike Atherton aka Sizemore in a blog post.

Below is Documentally’s mobile video of the Newsmaker:

The pair also used social media tools such as online site Phreadz, which builds multimedia forums around content submitted by users, to generate discussion around Brown’s speech.

“I sincerely hope that following today the idea of getting these events discussed on social media platforms such as Twitter, Seesmic and Phreadz becomes a natural part of the news media’s roadmap,” added Atherton.

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Government proposals could cause press to regress, says OhMyNews editor

Lee Han-ki, editor-in-chief of South Korea’s citizen journalism news organisation Oh My News, has said the proposed legislation to clampdown on online news in the country could stunt the ‘democratic development’ of the Korean press.

In an interview with the Guardian, Han-ki said the proposals are aimed at controlling public opinion of news media and repressing free speech.

Under the legislation proposed by newly-elected government leader Lee Myung-bak:

  • Internet companies would have to make their search algorithms public
  • Internet companies publishing news would be subject to the same regulation as media organisations
  • Forum users would have to register under their real names
  • The government would have the power to suspend publishing of articles found to be ‘fraudulent or slanderous’ for at least 30 days
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