Citizen Journalists Take Up the Professionals’ Beat

May 24, 2008 12:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Newspapers are finding it hard to fund investigative reporting. Is the decline of journalism now inevitable or can new media revive an ailing industry?

30-Second Summary

The Columbia Journalism Review says investigative journalism in America is endangered, with print newspapers struggling financially and some reporters forced to seek outside grants to finance hard-hitting stories.

“Investigative journalism … is the most expensive kind of journalism,” said TV journalist and author Marvin Kalb. “It takes a lot of time, and it requires a special kind of journalist who is willing to dig, be tough and offend people.”

Some reporters are even applying for grants to finance investigative projects that their papers can’t — or won’t — pay for. Former Wall Street Journal Editor Paul Steiger has launched a non-profit project called ProPublica to finance such “public interest” reporting.

But some media critics see hope for investigative reporting in Web-based media outlets and the rise of do-it-yourself “citizen journalism.”

Ordinary people armed with cameras and cell phones played a significant role in covering recent major stories such as anti-Chinese protests in Tibet and Southeast Asian tsunami, says The Vancouver Sun.

Jim Brady of The Washington Post agrees that ordinary people can help collect  “the sheer amount of information” necessary for investigative journalism.

“Once we figure out the sticky question of revenue models for the Web, hopefully there’ll be a building back up of newsrooms … and investigative staff, that have suffered in the past five years,” Brady added.

Headline Link: ‘Survival of Investigative Journalism’

Analysis: ‘The Life and Death of the American Newspaper’

Opinion: The ‘Future of Journalism’ and the citizen reporter

Reference: Media industry, sources of funding and a guide to citizen journalism


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