Posts By Cecil Rosner

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Kick-starting investigative journalism

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Last month, the Fund for Investigative Journalism in the US awarded grants totaling $57,000 to 15 journalists for investigative reporting projects.

The idea is to kick-start investigative work in a variety of fields, often providing funding that isn’t available anywhere else.

It’s a formula the fund has used with great success since its founding 40 years ago.

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Bribery investigation

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It’s hard to estimate how much corporate bribery takes place each year, but some have put the figure at more than $1 trillion. Because it all takes place in secret, and usually in untraceable cash transactions, bribery is notoriously difficult to document and expose.

That’s why the recent documentary and web feature by Frontline and Frontline World is so impressive.
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Alternative journalism and investigative reporting

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There is a provocative article in the latest edition of Journalism called “Why alternative journalism matters.”

It’s worth reading, and it’s worth thinking about the value of studying alternative media in the context of investigative journalism. Historically, some of the finest examples of investigative work have first appeared in the alternative press.

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Is history repeating itself?

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Those of us old enough to remember the economic situation of the early 1980s may be wondering: is history repeating itself in the way the media are valuing investigative journalism?

The 1970s witnessed an explosion of investigative work. The social forces of the ‘60s put many people into motion, and the public was growing increasingly skeptical about governments and institutions. Various alternative media institutions demonstrated that intensive inquiry could lead to revealing exposes. According to journalism professor Mark Feldstein’s muckraking model, the demand for investigative reporting was increased by an aroused public hungry for exposes in times of turmoil. Supply was spurred on by new technologies and media competition. Then along came Watergate, and the idea that a couple of young reporters relentlessly working a story could bring down a president. Newspapers formed teams, television networks created programs, and investigative journalism became the darling of Hollywood. Time magazine declared 1974 The Year of the Muckrakers.
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National endowments for journalism?

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“The internet is well suited to detect scandals that require lots of
bloggers to spend a little bit of time searching for bits of
incriminating evidence. But it’s no substitute for serious
investigative reporting that requires weeks of intelligent inquiry to
get to the heart of the problem. Without Woodwards and Bernsteins,
there will be even more Nixons and Madoffs raining mayhem and

That’s an excerpt from a provocative article in
the Guardian by Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres. Their solution to
declining newspapers and mass reporter layoffs? A national endowment
for journalism.
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