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Fri - 22.09.2017

NGOs' new role in investigative journalism

NGOs' new role in investigative journalism

As newspapers are forced to devote fewer resources to quality journalism, what is happening to investigative journalism?

According to Paul Lashmar, a former investigative journalist, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are stepping in.

European NGOs have an inherent advantage compared to newspapers that can no longer afford to staff foreign bureaus: they span the world. In today's aid climate, NGOs are widely perceived as an efficient way to solve certain issues and circumvent inefficient governments. Lashmar notes that their funds and specified projects tackling corruption, human rights, and environmental issues give them intimate knowledge on topics that make for good investigative journalism.

This is evidenced by two front-page investigations originally from NGOs published in The Guardian last October. Lashmar also cites a BBC Panorama broadcast on e-waste in Africa received much of its evidence from a London-based environmental NGO.

Journalists traditionally shape the news agenda, but NGOs have important knowledge to offer. Increasingly, they bypass media outlets altogether. According to Lashmar, "NGOs have started hiring investigative journalists to provide the media with material that they are no longer willing to fund."

We have previously reported on the non-profit news model, in which investigative journalism is recognized as a public good because of its significance to democracy. The nonprofits involved are specifically geared towards investigative journalism. The organizations, which include ProPublica, an American investigative journalism bureau, are funded by donations or subscriptions. There are equivalents in many regions of the world, including the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and the UK's Bureau of Investigative Journalism. These NGOs provide resources and networks to journalists, ensuring high quality stories.

Activist NGOs want to spread their message, and journalists want to find ways to break important, in-depth stories. For now, a marriage between NGOs and news sources may be the breath of fresh air that the press needs.

For more information, Paul Lashmar will be debating the increasing importance of NGOs in shaping the news at a special panel at the Centre for Investigative Journalism Summer School in London on July 16th.

Source: Open Democracy

Photo Credit: Collaboration Ideas



Florence Pichon


2011-06-14 15:30

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