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Is investigative newspaper journalism dead?

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deltic

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I went to see the film Spoltlight over the weekend which is about the Boston Globe's investigative journalism team exposure of systematic cover up of child abuse within the Archdiocese of Boston. The head of the team was explaining to the new Editor that the team might take a few months to decide what story to investigate and that it might then spend 12 months researching it.

The film was based on events in 2001/2 and I was thinking with collapse of the newspaper industry since then could any serious paper actually still be able to undertake researching such a story today?

I cant imagine any news editor today happily waiting a year for a team of reporters to come up with a story.

With the demise of News of the World and Mazher Mahmood (the fake sheikh) even the more salacious end of investigative journalism has almost disappeared.
 
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TheEdge

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In newspapers I would say yes, although they are a dying medium anyway.

Investigative journalism as an art, not at all. Websites like Buzzfeed and VICE are very into it. Buzzfeed working with the BBC brought up the tennis scandal. VICE, when its not being written by the worst type of whiny irritating student London types is also pretty darn good at it.
 

Busaholic

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The only newspapers that have both the money and the journalistic expertise for investigative reporting now are, sadly imo, the Times and Sunday Times, both of course part of the Murdoch stable. They still do quite a bit which don't always get fully acknowledged when the stories get taken up by other media e.g. the sexual exploitation of young females in South Yorkshire and Rochdale. The Daily Mail has the money behind it but rarely has the appetite to get stuck in, a very honourable exception being the editor's determination to go after Stephen Lawrence's killers.
 

Bletchleyite

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But then the Times produce rubbish like last weekend's article on saving money on rail fares, which was riddled with stupid inaccuracies, most of which would have resulted in passengers paying more, not less.
 

Busaholic

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But then the Times produce rubbish like last weekend's article on saving money on rail fares, which was riddled with stupid inaccuracies, most of which would have resulted in passengers paying more, not less.

To be fair, Neil, no journalist is ever going to have the time or expertise to really get to grips with the subject of rail fares. Nothing will ever change until we have a basic pounds and pence per mile charge throughout the system, no exceptions, which of course will never happen this side of Utopia.
 

Drsatan

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As someone who works in the regional newspaper industry, I can confirm the main reason investigative journalism (certainly in that sector of the industry) is practically dead is because hundreds of local newspaper journalists have been made redundant in the past few years. Most local newspapers are owned by a few big firms who believe cutting back the number of people who make newspapers is a good way to make a profit. Those journalists who are left are largely overworked and forced to look for easy ways of filling the pages, such as using press releases or User Generated Content (i.e. vanity publishing)

Couple this with the demise of professional photographers and the rise of using photos from social media and you wonder why many local papers are a fragment of their former selves.
 

RichmondCommu

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The Daily Mail has the money behind it but rarely has the appetite to get stuck in, a very honourable exception being the editor's determination to go after Stephen Lawrence's killers.

You are spot on with this. I can't stand the Daily Mail but to their credit they were hell bent on getting justice for Stephen Lawrence. And they are still snapping at the heels of the other three who murdered Stephen Lawrence. Sadly the residents of Eltham continue to look after their own although Neil Acourt is likely to go to jail for drugs offences and so will Jamie Acourt if the police catch him.
 
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miami

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But then the Times produce rubbish like last weekend's article on saving money on rail fares, which was riddled with stupid inaccuracies, most of which would have resulted in passengers paying more, not less.

Just because not every article is good investigative journalism, it doesn't mean that good journalism doesn't exist. Kim Sengupta and Patrick Cockburn for example. It costs a lot of money to fund the time it takes for a journalist to do a proper indepth report, and people aren't willing to pay for that time anymore.

The following message appears on newstatesman.com if you run an adblocker to block the 150+ advertising and spying elements that make the page unusable

Good journalism is expensive.
We notice you have ad blocking software enabled. Support the New Statesman’s quality, independent journalism by contributing now — and this message will disappear for the next 30 days.

If we cannot support the site on advertising revenue, we will have to introduce a pay wall — meaning fewer readers will have access to our incisive analysis, comprehensive culture coverage and groundbreaking long reads.

If you blink you miss it, and it's pretty hard to find it again (I had to break out a second browser), but it does give you the option to support journalism on a more adhoc basis than subscribing to a magazine.

On the other hand I've cancelled my £3/week subscription to the independent because I couldn't read the paper due to pop-up adverts in their app taking over the thing.

I'm happy to pay for good journalism from any end of the spectrum. Quality journalism can succeed if people are willing to pay. I'm not sure if the problem is that people aren't willing to pay, or if they don't think about where the food comes from on the journalist's table. Anthony Loyd takes the risk that many journalists take, he gets kidnapped, beaten, and shot in his attempt to bring us journalism, surely it's worth a few pennies to pay for his airfare and mortgage? I'm not willing to spend £6 a week to subscribe to the times (even ignoring the Murdoch angle), but I'm happy to spend 20p to read a given article. If 100,000 people paid that 20p, that's £20k, which should cover a couple of weeks of normal journalism to produce an indepth article.

You are spot on with this. I can't stand the Daily Mail but to their credit they were hell bent on getting justice for Stephen Lawrence. And they are still snapping at the heels of the other three who murdered Stephen Lawrence. Sadly the residents of Eltham continue to look after their own although Neil Acourt is likely to go to jail for drugs offences and so will Jamie Acourt if the police catch him.

Here's an interesting angle on this case: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16750408

"There had been a riot the weekend before and the Daily Mail had this story about the riots...and in the middle of that story there was about Stephen and the fact that we had met [Nelson] Mandela."
When journalists from the paper came to interview Mr Lawrence, he confronted them.

He said: "The first thing I said to them was: 'Why did your editor put my family in the middle of all that violence, we are not about violence'."
...
"I said: 'But Mr Dacre, you've met my kids. I used to take my children to places where I work'. He had met Stephen and Stuart."
Mr Lawrence added: "Because of that, the Daily Mail has been one of the biggest supporters for us over this story."
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As someone who works in the regional newspaper industry, I can confirm the main reason investigative journalism (certainly in that sector of the industry) is practically dead is because hundreds of local newspaper journalists have been made redundant in the past few years. Most local newspapers are owned by a few big firms who believe cutting back the number of people who make newspapers is a good way to make a profit. Those journalists who are left are largely overworked and forced to look for easy ways of filling the pages, such as using press releases or User Generated Content (i.e. vanity publishing)

Of course this goes hand in hand with falling sales and falling advertising revenues, and it enters a downward spiral.

Newspaper circulation has been falling (even the Mail) regardless of the quality for some time, and I'm not sure what the best solution is. Unfortunatly as people move from getting their news from professionals to seeing what's trending on twitter, two things happen

1) As has happened over the last 15 years, more and more press releases get covered as news. It's cheap and easy way to fill column inches/broadcast minutes
2) People forget what journalism is supposed to be. Instead you have an anchor host a debate between someone who says the world is flat and someone who says it's round, give them both 2 minutes for their prepared talking points, and then say "there you go folks, the debate rages on, stay tuned for a kitten playing a piano".

Oh if only The Newsroom was real life.

Perhaps I have rose tinted glasses for news from a time I don't really remember?
 
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Xenophon PCDGS

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With the demise of News of the World and Mazher Mahmood (the fake sheikh) even the more salacious end of investigative journalism has almost disappeared.

The "more salacious" end of such journalism is there for one reason only which is to pander to the seemingly never-ending appetite for this by a certain type of their readership under the pretence of being "investigative journalism".

I often wonder what the fake sheikh, Mazher Mehmood, would feel if he went over to Saudi Arabia and was caught by the authorities whilst indulging in such activities.. I am sure that Sharia law has a suitable punishment (to their way of thinking) for such antics.
 
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bnm

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I often wonder what the fake sheikh, Mazher Mehmood, would feel if he went over to Saudi Arabia and was caught by the authorities whilst indulging in such activities.. I am sure that Sharia law has a suitable punishment (to their way of thinking) for such antics.

Being charged with, and on bail for, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice probably precludes Mr Mahmood from travelling to anywhere outside the UK, let alone Saudi Arabia.
 

deltic

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In newspapers I would say yes, although they are a dying medium anyway.

Investigative journalism as an art, not at all. Websites like Buzzfeed and VICE are very into it. Buzzfeed working with the BBC brought up the tennis scandal. VICE, when its not being written by the worst type of whiny irritating student London types is also pretty darn good at it.

I always associate Buzzfeed with those endless lists (eg 15 photos of "celebrities" doing stupid things etc) but I see there are some serious stories there - never heard of VICE before and not sure browsing it at work during the lunch break is recommended - odd mixture of stories on it.
 

DarloRich

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Is investigative newspaper journalism dead?

Yes, unless it is in the interest of the proprietor of the newspaper. In honesty i stopped taking a paper several years ago. I find most of them simply a mouth piece for the prejudices of the owners.

As someone who works in the regional newspaper industry, I can confirm the main reason investigative journalism (certainly in that sector of the industry) is practically dead is because hundreds of local newspaper journalists have been made redundant in the past few years. Most local newspapers are owned by a few big firms who believe cutting back the number of people who make newspapers is a good way to make a profit. Those journalists who are left are largely overworked and forced to look for easy ways of filling the pages, such as using press releases or User Generated Content (i.e. vanity publishing)

Couple this with the demise of professional photographers and the rise of using photos from social media and you wonder why many local papers are a fragment of their former selves.

Indeed - the last paper I took was the Northern Echo, a socially liberal paper founded on campaigning and investigative journalism. Past editors include those champions of investigative journalism William Thomas Stead & Harold Evans. The Echo still does a good job in supporting campaigns in the region but is a shadow of its former self and simply part of a larger group of regional papers.
 

jon0844

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I read about the laying off of photographers just recently, and it didn't surprise me. What's worse is that many people won't notice or care.

On Facebook I am involved with a few local community groups (mostly very political, full of trolling, and gives a platform to the types of people that have no idea how things work but know how to fix everything).

Anyway, the local paper now actively browses the group to get stories, and if anyone posts a photo of a local car crash, or a tree falling down, they'll be on to ask if they can use it.. and in the paper/website it goes.

There's no budget to send the junior reporters out to find a story, let alone go out and take photos, and why bother when you can just send a message on FB or Twitter to ask if a picture can be used with credit? Sometimes I am not even sure they promise to attribute the photo to anyone, just ask for permission to publish it.

Search online for images where the creator has waived copyright and you don't even need to ask.

With so many stories reworded from stories already published elsewhere, and the obligatory press releases, and it's a very sad state of affairs.
 

DarloRich

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It is easy and cheap to trawl social media for stories, get a picture, knock up a few words and on to the next one. You can even interview "eye witnesses" without leaving the office.
 

jon0844

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Don't even need to interview, just embed a Tweet. Best thing then is that if it's totally wrong, even libellous, you can just say you were merely reporting what was being said - not actually saying it.

What I would like to stress is that this isn't journalists being lazy (well, some might be) but rather pressure from above to churn out news without putting any resources behind it. Journos hate it, and many are leaving the profession.

And just like any industry, the ones that leave are the ones who had moral values. The ones that remain are those who will ignore values for whatever money they can make.
 

Busaholic

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You are spot on with this. I can't stand the Daily Mail but to their credit they were hell bent on getting justice for Stephen Lawrence. And they are still snapping at the heels of the other three who murdered Stephen Lawrence. Sadly the residents of Eltham continue to look after their own although Neil Acourt is likely to go to jail for drugs offences and so will Jamie Acourt if the police catch him.

I feel ashamed to have grown up in Eltham: I cannot bear to go back there, not just for the usual reasons that after almost fifty years away so much that I knew will have changed, but because, as you say, enough of the local residents 'continue to look after their own'. Stephen Lawrence's death and its aftermath also directly and indirectly led to newspaper investigations into Met Police corruption, particularly in SE London, some of which continue, including the death of a private investigator in a pub car park years ago. There have been some quite brave individuals out there digging away despite threats and, fortunately, a few policemen prepared to break the 'omarta' code. Whether anything will ever come of any of it before all the guilty die is another matter, but that's British public life for you!
 

TheEdge

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I always associate Buzzfeed with those endless lists (eg 15 photos of "celebrities" doing stupid things etc) but I see there are some serious stories there - never heard of VICE before and not sure browsing it at work during the lunch break is recommended - odd mixture of stories on it.

Yes, Buzzfeed does seem to be a site of two (sometimes three) faces. There is the stupid clickbait rubbish side, a side of interesting diversions and then a quite serious side.

And VICE, yes, as the name suggests does contain some quite NSFW content but there is also some very very interesting stuff on there. Avoid UK politics, it seems to be written solely by extreme left student types.
 

pemma

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The Daily Mail's idea of Investigative Journalism

Ca-LrAWUcAAMJyw.jpg


Apparently it takes two pages to say "Yes"!
 

miami

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35561145

The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers are to cease print editions in March, the owner has said.
Announcing a move to a "digital-only future", ESI Media said there would be "some redundancies among editorial employees".
But it said there would also be 25 new "digital-content roles".

In other words expensive journalists are being fired, but new twitter followers will be able to buzz about the latest trending thing.

How sad.
 

Bletchleyite

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To be fair, the vast majority of the Indescribablyboring (thanks to Private Eye)'s readership, the "i" aside which split the market, is of left-of-centre but well off younger readers who are disproportionately likely to wish to read news online.

I can see the Grauniad following fairly quickly, to be honest. I would expect the Times, the Torygraph and the various tabloids to last much longer.
 

pemma

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The Independent has been more centralist recently. Last year it said another Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition would be a better General Election outcome than letting Milliband in to Downing Street, which left The Guardian and The Mirror as the only two major papers backing Labour.
 

Butts

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To be fair, the vast majority of the Indescribablyboring (thanks to Private Eye)'s readership, the "i" aside which split the market, is of left-of-centre but well off younger readers who are disproportionately likely to wish to read news online.

I can see the Grauniad following fairly quickly, to be honest. I would expect the Times, the Torygraph and the various tabloids to last much longer.

Speaking as an Independent reader for the whole of it's existence this is a sad announcement from my prospective. It may give The Guardian a temporary filip in it's circulation and or the I.

I must be the exception to the rule being neither left of centre , young or well off.

For me a newpaper is an important part of my daily life. :oops:
 

WelshBluebird

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I find it funny when people who criticize the likes of Buzzfeed and vice open up their copy of the Daily Mail or The Sun. Pot kettle black anyone?

Of course even myself find the idea of Buzfeed being a genuine and credible journalistic source quite amusing but some of their serious content is very good and quite often they will report on topics that much of the mainstream media gloss right over.

The reality is that print media is dying. It has been for a while. I don't know anyone around my age (25) who actually buys a newspaper anymore. Sure free newspapers like the Metro can work but I doubt there is room for many of them in the market. And of course when a paper is free the likelihood of deep investigative and interesting journalism existing drops quite a bit.
 
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Bletchleyite

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I don't buy a paper any more. I do however subscribe to the Times iPad app.

I stopped subscribing to the Guardian one because the app is rubbish.

There is still a market there - but I agree physical printed news is doomed long term.
 

Hornet

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From today's Irish Independent:-

"Security increase after threats made to INM journalists

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has led a chorus of condemnation of threats from criminals to the safety of a number of reporters at Independent News and Media.

The sinister warnings immediately brought back memories of the murder of the journalists' colleague, Veronica Guerin, 20 years ago.
The fearless 'Sunday Independent' investigative reporter was shot dead by members of the drug trafficking gang, led by John Gilligan, in June 1996.
The latest threats were formally notified by the gardaí to INM, and security for those named journalists is now being strengthened.
The threats were issued as a bloody feud between two major crime gangs erupted in Dublin, resulting in two deaths in less than 80 hours and saturation policing in the centre of the capital."

http://www.independent.ie/irish-new...threats-made-to-inm-journalists-34446516.html

UK could send over some of their hacks. There are a few phone hack journo's who could do with some sweaty palms.
 

miami

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I don't buy a paper any more. I do however subscribe to the Times iPad app.

I stopped subscribing to the Guardian one because the app is rubbish.

There is still a market there - but I agree physical printed news is doomed long term.

I subscribed to the independent app, despite the terrible interface (having to reinstall every week as it forgot I was paying), until they started full-page adverts in the app which prevented me from actually accessing the paper I was buying.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The reality is that print media is dying. It has been for a while. I don't know anyone around my age (25) who actually buys a newspaper anymore. Sure free newspapers like the Metro can work but I doubt there is room for many of them in

How many of your age actually pay to consume internet-based media? How many run adblock or similar (not that I blame them with the security problems of allowing adverts)?

I suspect the answer is "not many" and "most". On the other hand maybe not, maybe under 25s are happy to subscribe to things like amazon and netflix, and the problem is that traditional media just can't adapt to the realities of how modern people want to pay and how they want services delivered.
 

Bletchleyite

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The adblock thing will have to give in the end. People have to realise that they are paying in part for their service (even if a paid newspaper) by experiencing advertising, and have to be willing to pay a higher price[1] without it.

[1] I usually do when buying mobile phone apps.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
traditional media just can't adapt to the realities of how modern people want to pay and how they want services delivered.

Music is a fine example of this. The music industry stuck their fingers in their collective ears and went "la la la" for years, then instead of finding ways to offer music purchase online decided to use legal means to stop file sharing instead of first offering a legal means to download music as they now do.
 
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WelshBluebird

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I will gladly admit that I have an adblock installed on my personal computer (not my work one though). However I generally keep it disabled unless a site does something to warrant me enabling it.

While I agree that people will at some point have to realise that even online journalism costs money, some (a lot of) sites really don't help themselves. And I'm not just talking security here. Some ads are so intrusive and obnoxious, I am thinking of auto playing video with loud sound or full page roll over animated ads (even on mobile), that they fully deserve to be adblocked. Sadly local newspaper websites are often horrible for this.
 

pemma

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I am thinking of auto playing video with loud sound or full page roll over animated ads (even on mobile), that they fully deserve to be adblocked. Sadly local newspaper websites are often horrible for this.

Also worth noting if you're using a mobile Internet connection, which doesn't have to mean you're on a mobile (it could be what you use with a laptop on a train), you probably have a data allowance and big flashy adverts or auto play videos will quickly eat that allowance up.
 
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