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  • seandodson 4:24 pm on November 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: George Entwistle, investigative journalism, ,   

    The current state of investigative journalism in the UK 

    Say what you like about George Entwistle’s pay off (and I think the poor bugger should keep the money), the child abuse scandal at Newsnight — which brought down the director general of the BBC comes at a rotten time for investigative journalism. The local press continues to decline, losing readers and the inclination to conduct proper investigative journalism beyond Freedom of Information requests. Lord Leveson is due to report back next week, and we can all expect some limits placed on the printed press. And now the BBC tearing itself arpart in a way that somehow reminds of Dali’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), right. If, as commentators, such as Steve Hewlett have suggested, investigations get permanantly frozen out from Newsnight, and The World at One and the Today programme, at the BBC, one of the few institutions to be able to conduct proper investigative journalism in this country will be weakened quite dangerously. It is very worrying

  • seandodson 12:38 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , investigative journalism, mother jones, , , torture, US, US military   

    Torture playlist sounds a belated note of sanity 

    Yesterday I posted an article on the Guardian Arts Blog directing its readers to a “playlist” assembled by the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. I had hoped to provoke a conversation examining the contents of a very grim chart, uncovered by the investigative journalist Justine Sharrock, who had been painstakingly assembled from a collection of “a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees”.

    What I instigated, instead, was some kind of free-for-all where dozens of readers began nominating songs for alternative lists. I was surprised and a little bit shocked by their reaction. It wasn’t as if there nothing to mull over on the original list. As Sharrock says, “music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, prolong capture shock, disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams.” The contents of “playlist” revealed, to me at least, a lot the attitude and mores of the US military interrogators.

    As you might expect, the contents of the “chart” makes for ghoulish listening. Eminem’s White America sits alongside Deicide’s Fuck Your God, patriotic songs, like Don McLean’s American Pie  and Born in the USA are twisted beyond their original meanings; children’s ditties sit grimly next to heavy metal anthems. Most bizarre of all is the entry of Raspberry Beret by Prince (although one suspects that it must be a song of choice for “red cap” regiments) . All of which, I saw, fit for intelligent and in-depth comment.

  • seandodson 4:52 pm on November 15, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: investigative journalism, ,   

    Is the art of reporting really doomed? 

    The esteemed investigative journalist David Leigh has written a provocative piece in this week’s Media Guardian in which he predicts the demise of the reporter. The media will soon “splinter into a thousand websites, a thousand digital channels,” is the general tone of the piece. The article is an edited extract from the inaugural Anthony Sampson lecture, which he gave at City University in London last week.

    I attended the original lecture and after reading the article again, i think much the same as i did last week. That he’s being far, far too pessimistic. He’s right, of course, that newspapers are losing advertising revenue and that the role of reporters is set to change. Right again, when he quotes John Simpson who says that investigative journalism is being cut back, even at the BBC.

    But he’s wrong to see nothing but gloom. For a start, the “splintering” of the media has already happened. His own website, for example, enjoys several times more readers online than it does in print, many of them arriving via various different links distributed by the splintered media. He also neglects to mention that some of the biggest scoops of the last decade have been turned up by bloggers, not least the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    But there are other reasons to be cheerfull. As was written in the Cluetrain Manifesto, the internet has begun, “a powerful global conversation … [where] people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed.”

    And so they are. There are already a number of anti-corporate blogs, like Tescopoly and Walmart Watch, that demonstrate how communities of interest can work together to create something approaching the power of an old-fashioned investigative report. Indeed, as early as the mid-nineties, when the McLibel Two took on one of the biggest corporations in the world and (sort of) won , the internet has been beating big media to many big stories. Over the horizon, new trends like Crowdsourcing and other forms of network journalism that promise to take some of the tedium out of investigative reporting.

    I not saying that people like Mr Leigh can be replaced by people attempting to write the world’s wrongs while still in their pajamas. Just that new technology has the power to create new methods of reporting that can assist journalists, rather than simply threaten to render them toothless and/or redundant.

    • Garri 6:50 pm on November 15, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      The splintering is already happening, or has happened, on the internet, as this article illustrates:


      The thing about newspapers is that they are powerful brands and the challenge is how they leverage this fact. The Guardian, for example, has already embraced the threat of blogging and turned it into an opportunity.

      The other thing I see the Guardian doing, which sets itself apart from the rest, is its unrelenting production and packaging of quality content. All those lovely posters for kids with stickers, those food and travel A5 sized supplements, the famous interviews pamphlets etc etc. They’re the kind of things you want to keep.

      A refreshing departure from the FREE CD/DVD nonsense that just devalues music and culture in my opinion. I’m surprised the likes of the Daily Mail hasn’t given away a free CD of Nevermind The Bollocks in commemoration of 30 years of punk!

      That would upset a few people, I’m sure. Mind you, it’s pretty hard to throw a brick at your plasma screen TV in disgust these days. How times have changed 😉

    • seandodson 1:13 pm on December 28, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      There’s a follow up debate to this article over at metafilter

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