The UK's Bureau of Investigative Journalism hopes to fill in the holes left by the recent media crisis and subsequent corner-cutting that has taken place over the past three years, reports Journalism.co.uk.
The Potter Foundation-backed venture employs 17 freelancers and full-time staff members and boasts a budget of £2 million to support multimedia investigative ventures. Managing editor Iain Overton claims the bureau has a collaboration agreement with the Financial Times, a commission from Channel 4 News, and interest from at least three other news venues, including television and radio.
One of the main goals of the bureau, said Overton, is to provide freelancers with fiscal support to pursue investigations that mainstream media organizations may have an interest in but are unable to support.
"There are new opportunities in terms of creating ways in which journalists collaborate and bringing print journalists and broadcast journalists to create a multimedia offering," he told Journalism.co.uk. "The challenge is persuading the editors that they can allow this to happen."
Not only will the bureau create connections between journalists from different media, but it also aims to improve the technology available to journalists to help them engage in investigative reporting.
"We live in age to some degree of remarkable openness on the part of government," Overton said. "But I think ironically the sheer wealth of information out there means you can't find the juicy bits without months and months of trawling."
He says that journalists can "make the most of the limited money available" to investigative journalists by being multi-skilled but also by making the most of their time, through a keen use of technology to do a lot of the information-gathering work while leaving journalists to do the reporting.
Overton states that his bureau will mostly focus on government records, because the information offered by governments, while plentiful, is often immensely difficult to wade through. "To some degree you need big teams to tackle this enormous information overload," he said, citing his bureau as an answer to this problem. He hopes that the BIJ will offer the public the kind of investigative journalism that might be otherwise overlooked for lack of funds, but has a long-term and increasing impact on the daily lives of all citizens.