Tag Archives: investigative journalism

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

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.”



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.

Editor&Publisher: New AP regional investigative teams will boost CAR and data journalism

The Associated Press (AP) is creating four regional investigative teams to support its staff across the US with “reporting and presentation resources”, in particular by using journalists with expertise in computer-assisted reporting (CAR), Flash interactives and access to public records.

Now, any reporter in a region who has an idea for a story that requires high-level data analysis will have a partner. If an editor has an idea for a project that lends itself to an interactive map or another data-driven multimedia project, they can work with the team. When a big, breaking story happens anywhere in the country, we’ll tap the region’s I-team [the name given to the newly created teams] to begin digging into public records and inspection reports while the story is still developing, not days after the fact.

Full story at this link…

Nieman Journalism Lab: For-profit model can’t support investigative journalism, says Len Downie

From Nieman, former Washington Post executive editor and Centre for Investigative Reporting board member Len Downie claims that the for-profit model can no longer support the kinds of investigative journalism that society needs. Journalists must instead embrace a variety of new economic models, he says. Downie also questions the sustainability of the non-profit organisations that have launched in recent years:

That leads to the other big question of sustainability: it’s not clear that all the non-profits that have launched in recent years will survive. “How many will succeed and for how long?” Downie wondered. A related question: how will the collaborative model settle out, and where will non-profits find productive niches?

Full post at this link…

Poynter: Msnbc.com narrative slideshow garners 78m page views

After researching the strange story of a very wealthy, elderly American heiress,  veteran Msnbc.com investigative reporter Bill Dedman decided to experiment with the presentation of his article. Rather than turn in a few thousand words of copy as usual, Dedman put together almost 50 photographs in a slideshow and accompanied them with captions.

The result, The Clarks: an American story of wealth, scandal and mystery, is not groundbreaking in its approach to storytelling, but the response to the story is testament to the power of visual reportage.

Dedman reported that he received 500 emails from readers about the story, more than he’s received about any other in his career, and it has had around 78 million page views, more than any other story on Msnbc.com.

Poynter’s Steve Myers has an interview with Dedman on the story at this link…

Investigative news organisation shares its reporting recipe

Taking the ‘show your process’ ethos seriously, the US-based non-profit investigative outlet ProPublica has released a recipe for one of its recent investigations, which examined how states oversaw the misconduct of medical professionals.

ProPublica was created two years ago to pursue stories that would spur change. As part of this mission, we make our finished work and its underlying data available to all. Other news organizations are free to republish stories posted on our site. Reporters across the country have used the data we have compiled on the stimulus to do local versions of these stories. And whenever possible, we post source documents for readers to view.

Now we are taking this principle a step further, giving away the recipe for what has been one of our most powerful reporting efforts to date. We are doing this because we believe there are many ways to prompt change through journalism.

Full post at this link…

Recipe at this link…

British Journalism Review: Calls for libel law reform are misguided

Investigative journalist Bruce Page assesses calls for libel law reform and finds that they might be misguided, in his view.

“Journalism is intended to be harmful and journalists who don’t like risk should go elsewhere.”

One of the problems is that journalism spends too much time on “insubstantial doomsday scenarios” and not enough developing knowledge to expose “self-defamatory” claims, in science for example.

Making it easier for nervous people to publish accusations isn’t going to change any of that. Lawsuit economics still give excessive advantage to wealth and power. Introducing no-win-no-fee litigation has reduced that old abuse – and brought some fresh ones into play. Let’s reform them. But the law itself isn’t broke. Don’t fix it.

Full post at this link…

Nieman Journalism Lab: Iceland’s journalism haven proposal passes first stage

Nieman Journalism Lab has some more details on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) – and a link to a rough translation of the proposal for a collection of laws to ensure better protection of journalists’ sources and protect publishers against libel tourism.

The IMMI proposal has passed its first discussion in parliament and will now move to the committee stage before a second discussion and final vote.

Full post at this link…

BBC News: Wikileaks and Icelandic MPs propose ‘haven’ for investigative journalism

Whistleblowing website Wikileaks and some Icelandic MPs have launched the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) – a proposal calling on the country’s government to adopt laws to better protect journalists and their sources, which has the potential to create a haven for investigative journalists in the country.

The proposal will be filed with the Icelandic parliament on 16 February.

Such changes could encourage more journalists and media businesses to move to Iceland, Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, tells BBC News. The IMMI also wants to challenge so-called “libel tourism” and change libel laws that threaten publishers, internet hosts and sites like Wikileaks that act as a “conduit” between source and journalist. Wikileaks has recently been involved in a fundraising drive to support the site, which has previously had to be taken down because of lack of funding.

Full story at this link…

Heather Brooke on how British journalists avoid accountability by not naming sources

British journalism was under attack from two fronts this week. Satoshi Kanazawa, evolutionary psychologist at the London school of Economics accused the UK press of making things up. And on Charlie Brooker’s satirical TV show Newswipe Heather Brooke, investigative journalist and freedom of information campaigner, lambasts UK journalists for not always attributing official sources and therefore avoiding accountability. [Update: watch the video and read Brooke’s comment to understand the difference between protecting confidential sources and not naming official spokespeople…]

China Media Project/Singapore Straits Times: The state of investigative journalism in China

“It may not quite be the Fourth Estate as in the Western press but a form of ‘watchdog journalism’ exists in China,” says this interesting piece looking at the growth of and challenges to investigative journalism in China.

The article takes a look at those organisations carrying out investigations, the help/hindrance of the internet, whether investigative journalists are chasing the right stories and what price they might pay for their work.

Full story at this link…