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Reply #4: Forty years after Watergate, investigative journalism is at risk [View All]

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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-08-12 08:10 AM
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4. Forty years after Watergate, investigative journalism is at risk

Forty years after Watergate, investigative journalism is at risk

About the author: Leonard Downie Jr. is the Weil family professor of journalism at Arizona State Universitys Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and vice president at large of The Washington Post, where he worked for 44 years. He was The Posts executive editor from 1991 to 2008.

(from the June 8 Wash. Post)

Investigative reporting in America did not begin with Watergate. But it became entrenched in American journalism and has been steadily spreading around the world largely because of Watergate.

Now, 40 years after Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote their first stories about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washingtons Watergate office building, the future of investigative reporting is at risk in the chaotic digital reconstruction of journalism in the United States. Resource-intensive investigative reporting has become a burden for shrunken newspapers struggling to reinvent themselves and survive. Nonprofit start-ups seeking to fill the gap are financially fragile themselves, with their sustainability uncertain.

(...)

We continue to live in perilous times, making investigative journalism as essential to our democracy as the Watergate stories were. However, the impact of digital media and dramatic shifts in audience and advertising revenue have undermined the financial model that subsidized so much investigative reporting during the economic golden age of newspapers, the last third of the 20th century. Such reporting remains a high priority at many financially challenged papers, which continue to produce accountability journalism that matters to their communities but they have far fewer staff members and resources to devote to it. Meanwhile, much of the remaining investigative reporting on television stations and networks, which also are struggling to maintain audience and revenue, consists of consumer-protection and crime stories that drive ratings.

(...)

Investigative nonprofits are being started all the time. But many of the fledgling sites are struggling to survive. Foundations that provide seed money seldom are interested in helping with long-term sustainability. Fundraising and membership drives must compete with other causes. Some start-ups have already failed. Others have had to cut costs and staff to stay alive.

full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/forty-years-afte...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/101630954
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