Thursday, November 18, 2010

Non-for-profit news organizations and the Investigative News Network

Investigative journalists are able to do their true job now on a greater scale because of the Internet and the database resources online reporting initiatives make available. It is no longer based on local reporters uncovering scandal in their own communities because the Internet allows for reporters around the country, or even around the world, to collaborate on a certain subject and as a result prompt significant change.

Based on classroom discussions in the last two years I have had while at UT along with articles on the Internet, there seems to be two debates going on about whether the Internet has been a positive or negative thing for journalism. There is the side that says the Internet has killed the traditional news organization and is the reason why there is not enough money to hire more employees. Then there is the discussion that the Internet has been bad for investigative journalism because now it is hard for readers to distinguish between what is an investigative report and what is simply someone’s blog. Despite what some may believe, investigative journalism initiatives have improved the level of credibility online reports hold through exclusive databases that the average citizen would not have access to. The Investigative News Network has become iconic in the non-for-profit news organization sector and has had major success since its initial launch in 2008.

There is a wider range of stories being told now because of these online initiatives and has become an outlet for a wider variety of content to reach a wider variety of consumers. These online initiatives for investigative journalism have created a sphere where more citizens are functioning as “watch dogs” in society because the profession is no longer condensed to the limited job availability the news room allows for, which is also important because now there is a wider range of stories that can be covered that a traditional news organization would not be able to handle.

Investigative News Network CEO Kevin Davis discusses the importance of this concept and believes online investigative reporting initiatives will foster and create more comprehensive community tools through a lot of “organic” and “natural” collaboration. Davis is referring to the new “Members Only” section of the new INN website, which became available this month.

“We will now have toolsets that enable people to share best practices, nurture ideas, and when those ideas actually come to fruition – when there’s a solid story, we’ll have systems by which those stories can be offered up to get other members in the network involved.”

Davis continues to explain that with this kind of a system, we are going to see increasing collaboration with external for-profit partners, who are keenly interested in INN’s content and getting it out there.

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