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Managing investigative reporting: Values and Processes

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Title: Managing investigative reporting: Values and Processes


1
Managing investigative reporting Values and
Processes
  • Dr. Mark Lee Hunter
  • INSEAD/Université de Paris 2
  • VVOJ, Nov. 21 2008

2
Part One Why IJ needs a business model
  • A business model is NOT
  • JUST a way to make money
  • A revenue projection
  • A business model IS
  • What value do we create? (differentiation)
  • For whom? (market, rewards)
  • How? (processes)

3
The strategic issues
  • The news industry is losing…
  • The battle for talent
  • The battle of branding (loss of trust)
  • The battle for a public

4
IJ is part of the response
  • Augments image of independence
  • Builds capabilities
  • Helps to retain talent
  • Builds circulation (Canard enchaîné)
  • Builds VA services (Economist)

5
The IJ model is changing
  • IJ is theorised as playing a civic role in which
    informed citizens make better decisions
  • BUT the public is not just citizens!
  • AND the public is now communities!
  • (Ex ecologist, parent, consumer…)

6
THE VALUE OF IJ IS SERVICE!
  • Journalism is viewed by its makers as a PRODUCT…
  • But service means transforming the user! (cf The
    Experience Economy, Pine Gilmore 1999)

7
Some services IJ performs…
  • For the industry attractor, differentiator
  • For the reporter teaches valuable and
    transferable skills
  • For the community changes outcomes, creates
    leverage
  • For the individual Empowerment!

8
WHERES THE VALUE OF A STORY?
  • What is UNIQUE about a given story?
  • Who does it speak to?
  • Will it improve our brand, skills base?
  • Can we have an impact?
  • Does it tell our readers/viewers…
  • Something that gives them great pleasure?
  • Or gives them more power over their lives?
  • IF NOT… WHY ARE WE DOING IT?

9
Part Two Emerging models of IJ

10
What they have in common
  • Content biased
  • BUT accurate and unique
  • Style reinforces content
  • Image Independence!
  • Core public is a community

11
THE COMMUNITY IS THE CONTENT
  • Different folks want different info (cf Hamilton,
    All the News Thats Fit to Sell)
  • Communities perform self-policing of info
  • Communities distrust mainstream info
  • Global communities have similar concerns.

12
Communities arent the public
  • They create different value in
  • Reputation (cf Open Source Movement)
  • Reach (narrower but deeper)
  • Influence (from you decide to do it)
  • They demand embedded journalists

13
HOW COMMUNITIES ARE CHANGING IJ
  • Environmental movement NGOs news network
  • Investors Financial analysts beat the media
  • Media blogs Clean polluted info environment
  • Value added for IJ Lifestyle support, reputation
    (access to ancillary revenues), advertising
    revenue, diversify audiences (plural!)

14
For the community, STYLE AUTHENTICITY
  • Im not ashamed of what I am
  • Im not scared to say what I say… and to be
    entertaining while I do it
  • I belong to the community and Im proud of it

15
The emerging media paradigm

16
Part Three Managing the Process
  • IJ requires different approaches to
  • Talent management
  • Process control
  • (deliverables, budget, quality control)
  • Promotion
  • Partnership

17
Key issues for IJ managers
  • STRATEGIC CLARITY Whats the story?
    Why are we doing it?
  • 2) CHALLENGE Is this the right story?
  • PROCESS CONTROL Moving efficiently?
  • QUALITY CONTROL Is it done right?
  • 5) PROMOTION Does anyone know we did it?

18
Key tool Story-based inquiry
  • The principle
  • Rather than treat each part of the investigative
    process as a separate step, create an integrated
    STORY-BASED process
  • Begin with the STORY
  • Test, verify, refine
  • Publish, partner, defend

19
Strategic clarity Frame investigation as a
story from the beginning
A story combines events and people into a
narrative sequence with a beginning (when it
started), middle (where we are now), and end
(what comes next… or in journalism, might). It
takes into account available facts, and exposes
or reconciles contradictions.
20
Editor AND reporter… Are testing hypothetical
stories
  • A good hypothesis
  • Takes the best information we have into account.
  • Contains factual assertions (terms) that can be
    verified.
  • Can be written in three sentences or less.

21
Too often….
Reporters sell the boring facts. Make them
sell the HYPOTHESIS. The ideal hypothesis is one
that is a story if it is true, and a story if it
isnt true.
22
Challenge Get the hypothesis right
  • DO require a hypothesis that
  • Allows us to identify specific  facts  we need
  • Allows us to identify or seek specific sources
  • Allows us to estimate the time (and budget)
    needed to verify these facts
  • Refuse projects that
  • Leave out known facts
  • Take the first hypothesis as final truth
  • Seek to  prove  it despite facts to the
    contrary

23
It doesnt matter if the hypothesis is true… just
if you can verify it!
A true example  Doctors are killing
prematurely-born babies to stop them from growing
up with handicaps. 
24
Challenge Check the open doors
Beginners want to find secrets. But there are so
few… There are mainly facts we havent
examined. Make reporters get the easyopen source
data FIRST… to see if theres a story… THEN
GUESS WHAT THE SECRET IS AND CONFIRM IT.
25
Challenge Map the human sources
A source map is also a road map!
26
Challenge Get the reporter to budget
1) Travel How far, how often? Hotels or
couches? 2) Meals Fast food or fancy food for
sources? 3) Communications Phone, SMS,
registered mail 4) Time The reporters and
yours! 5) Services Illustration, photography,
etc. Help reporters know their costs!
27
Process control Request a chronology
  • Helps to keep track of data
  • Suggests relationships between data
  • Tells us what to look for next
  • Gives us the backbone when we write


28
Process control From chronology to master file
  • Using timeline as basic frame, insert
  • Source contact info (if not confidential)
  • Biographical data on characters
  • Site descriptions
  • Interview/doc extracts (with citation info)
  • Notes for ideas and questions…..
  • Let the chronology keep it together!

29
Process control Using the master file
  • In raw form Data dump (for reporter)
  • In edited form Story outline
  • In final form Story AND reference file

30
WHAT ARE THE DELIVERABLES?
A STORY? (HOW LONG? WHAT FORMAT?) A SERIES?
(SAME AS ABOVE) SPINOFF PRODUCTS? (REPRINTS,
BOOKS, SYNDICATION) THE REPORTER CAN SAY WHEN
ITS COMING!
31
Quality control
  • Master file should contain references for all
    facts.
  • Editor must now SEE
  • Do references and facts match?
  • Have all actors been contacted?
  • Have alternate hypotheses been eliminated?

32
Promotion and Defense
  • Principle The verified hypothesis can be sold!
  • Contact concerned communities
  • Make reporter available to speak
  • Make key docs available to competing media
  • Partner with non-competing media
  • Post on open source media
  • Anticipate target response document riposte

33
EXAMPLES TO PONDER
  • www.grist.org Environmental smiles
  • www.enn.com Aggregation services
  • www.radins.com Live cheap
  • www.ted.com Inspirational ideas
  • www.courrierinternational.com Global themes for
    global news

34
Thanks for listening.
  • http//markleehunter.free.fr
  • Mark.hunter_at_wanadoo.fr
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