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If investigative journalism has a future, it will be on partisan news sites 7/8/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Investigative journalism.

Now that competition has been entering the news industry, it is becoming clear that while journalists might love investigative journalism, there is not much of a consumer market for it. If it were that popular, why would newspapers be devoting only perhaps 1% of their budgets to it per Jeff Jarvis, while its high expense makes it a juicy target for budget cuts?

But the decline of investigative journalism in mainstream outlets is not the tragedy that it might seem. When you actually investigate investigative journalism, you find that knowingly or not it is often used to achieve partisan ends. The Washington Post’s list of top newspaper investigations reveals the center-left establishment slant we’ve come to expect from mainstream media — private sector wrongdoing, people cheating the government out of tax money, sub-labor union quality working conditions abroad, corrupt and incompetent Republican administrations, and male sexism. We should expect more of the same from the new, purportedly “objective,” not-for-profit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica, which is funded by Herbert and Marion Sandler — lefty billionaires who also provide substantial funding to the American Civil Liberties Union, Acorn, the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress, and MoveOn.org.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that (other than ProPublica’s lack of ideological transparency). America will be well served and will get valuable information from investigative journalists and their benefactors at partisan sites fulfilling their passion to make their opponents look bad. In fact, they will be better served than by mainstream media investigative journalists who try to be objective but lack the self-consciousness to realize their targets always seem to be the foes of the establishment.


1. Digidave - 7/8/08

I’ve had this same conversation before.

Truth is: There is no such thing as “clean money.” ProPublica’s isn’t clean – neither is the money used to fuel investigative journalism in mainstream news organizations. We’ve all heard the horror story of an editor or publisher who killed an investigation for fear of losing advertisers.

There is no such thing as clean money. The trick, however, is to make the money transparent – that way readers are informed and can assess for themselves whether or not an investigation had an angle.

2. Steve Boriss - 7/8/08


Agreed. Transparency is key for honesty and integrity. Beyond that, I don’t mind if partisans go after each other tooth and claw, if they are civil. That’s America.


3. frankwolftown - 7/8/08

It’s funny you should mention it because this aticle reminds me of this comic. I know it’s weird to bring up a comic but I look at it and can;t help but think about how future news sites would end up looking like the one here. http://www.webcomicsnation.com/memberimages/templar_arizona_01x083.gif

4. Is the Future of Investigative Journalism Partisan? « Network(ed)News - 7/13/08

[…] Nowhere , networked news , news I think Steve Boriss is basically correct when he’s skeptical about the future of investigative journalism written according the View from […]

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