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September 15 2010

16:00

How a nonprofit consortium of investigative journalists collaborates across the globe on important stories

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, which focuses on the current state of international reporting. There are lots of interesting articles — check out the whole issue — but we're highlighting a few that line up with our subject matter here at the Lab. Here's David E. Kaplan, director of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, on how a recent ICIJ investigation shows how members of the consortium collaborate across the globe. —Josh]

Doing quality investigative reporting has always been a challenge, even in the United States, where the craft enjoys an honored and storied century-long tradition. We’ve had to fight for reporting time and for space to publish and broadcast what we’ve dug up. We face threats from lawsuits and from penny-pinching owners. Lately the obstacles have become downright nasty: a shifting economic model for news, changing technology, fleeting attention spans, and a bruising recession.

And we have it easy.

Now add to those challenges a whole new set from operating internationally: differences in language, culture, professional standards, and libel laws. Then throw in a bunch of more mundane headaches like time differences and access to reliable communications. Finally, figure out a way to finance a months-long multinational bout of muckraking.

Welcome to my world — or, more precisely, welcome to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a rather unusual animal in the news media wilderness. We are a network of leading investigative reporters, with more than 100 members in 50 countries. Our journalists — numbering anywhere from three to 20 — come together as teams to work on long-term investigative projects. We’re a true network, linked by cell phones, email, collaborative online software, and a handful of core staff in Washington, D.C.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

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