Spring 2009

Voyages of Discovery Into New Media

At the crossroad of old journalism and new media, digital news entrepreneurs lead us on voyages of discovery into new media. From MinnPost to MediaStorm, these entities are using visual media, interactivity and social media to watchdog government abuse and the justice system, identify environmental dangers, and tell enduring stories. In doing so, they illuminate possibilities. —Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Voyages of Discovery Into New Media
Introduction (1 comment)
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
The New Front Page: The Digital Revolution
A former newspaper editor figures out how to fund serious digital journalism with an annual budget less than what newsrooms sometimes spent on one investigative project.
By Joel Kramer
Watchdog Analysis: Offering Context and Perspective Online
At the Beacon in St. Louis, reporters attempt to ‘provide context to illuminate why something is happening, explain what’s at stake, and assess what might—or what should—happen next.’
By Margaret Wolf Freivogel
Defining an Online Mission: Local Investigative Reporting (2 comments)
At the nonprofit voiceofsandiego.org, ‘From our first day our job has been to fill the gaps between what people want from their local media and what they have.’
By Andrew Donohue and Scott Lewis
Crowdfunded Reporting: Readers Pay for Stories to Be Told (1 comment)
‘Reporting for Spot.Us, where money directly changes hands, is the same as reporting any story for Wired.com. For Spot.Us, the ethical promise inheres in the transparency of the funding.’
By Alexis Madrigal
A Digital Vision of Where Journalism and Government Will Intersect
‘… the journalistic process of assembling information and connecting the dots to inform tough questions will be easier.’
By Bill Allison
Tracking Toxics When the Data Are Polluted (1 comment)
How computational journalism can uncover what polluters would prefer to hide.
By James T. Hamilton
An Investigative Reporting Partnership: A Serendipitous Collaboration (6 comments)
‘At Northeastern University in Boston, where I joined the faculty in 2007, students in my investigative reporting seminars have produced 11 Page One stories for The Boston Globe in just 20 months.’
By Walter V. Robinson
Long-Form Multimedia Journalism: Quality Is the Key Ingredient (22 comments)
As a producer of social documentary projects—viewed on digital platforms—Brian Storm talks about the excitement of doing journalism in this way, at this time.
A conversation with Brian Storm
Video News Reporting: New Lessons in New Media (4 comments)
‘What would it take to create good video journalism for online audiences, inexpensively and in an idiom that looked neither too homemade nor too much like TV?’
By Nick Penniman
Using Social Media to Reach Young Readers (1 comment)
In reporting on a case of a police informant who’d been murdered, the Tallahassee Democrat relied on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and text messages to get its reporting to young readers.
By Julia Luscher Thompson
The Web: Fertile Ground for Investigative Projects
‘Digital journalism could not be the sole domain of breaking news and blogging, and it had to be more than the repository of electronic reprints.’
By Maud Beelman
Using Multimedia to Tell an Investigative Story About Innocence (1 comment)
‘Two departments within our newspaper—editorial and new media—had to work closely together to construct the project.’
By Christine Young
Reliable News: Errors Aren’t Part of the Equation
In the transition to digital journalism, accuracy—as an indicator of quality—must maintain its place at the top of the list of essential ingredients.
By Craig Silverman
Words & Reflections
News Photography in Afghanistan, Climate Change and Politics, and Economic Calamity and Coverage
Afghanistan: Pictures Not Taken
‘When the press started to feel empowered to show and tell the truth, it was only a matter of time before the military and government powers would retaliate.’
By Travis Beard
Coming to a Political Beat Near You: Policy Wars Over Global Warming
As intense partisan politics begin to infuse the climate change story, what do journalists and journalism students need to know?
By Tom Yulsman
An ‘Open Notebook’ Project About Climate Change
‘Plunder’ Explores What Happens When an Important Story Is Poorly Told
‘In retrospect, editors and reporters should have looked more carefully and consistently at the consequences of deregulation on Wall Street and Main Street.’
By Susan E. Reed
Curator’s Corner
Change Is in the Air at Lippmann House
Applications for fellowships are on the rise, as a multimedia curriculum is readied for the new fellows who will engage in the industry’s digital transformation.
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
Choosing Risk In a Volatile Economic Environment
A journalist concludes, ‘A timid reaction assumes forgoing the opportunity to innovate at this exciting juncture of history.’
By Andrés Cavelier
Presidential Dogs (1 comment)
By Elinor J. Brecher
21st Century Muckrakers: Investigating Medical and Health Issues
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Diving Into Data to Tell Untold Medical Stories (2 comments)
‘The U.S. press seemed to accept as established truth that cholesterol lowering is vital and that statins are the closest thing to wonder drugs. I’m not any smarter than my colleagues, I worried. Maybe I’m just wrong.’
By John Carey
Investigative Reporting on Medical Science: What Does It Take to Break Through the Commercial Spin? (2 comments)
‘… it is almost impossible to get the story right when the fundamentally commercial goals for which the study has been done are covered up with so much industry-sponsored expertise.’
By John Abramson
Silenced Words: An Op-ed That Couldn’t Find a Home (1 comment)
Excerpts from an op-ed co-authored by John Abramson, Jim Wright, and Merrill Goozner
Changing the Drumbeat of Typical Health Reporting (1 comment)
At HealthNewsReview.org ‘… we are on the lookout for those stories that include unsubstantiated claims made in the course of reporting about health.’
By Gary Schwitzer
Examining Water Supplies in Search of Pharmaceutical Drugs
‘Secrecy, it turned out, was our biggest enemy, but not for the reasons investigative reporters typically encounter ….’
By Richard T. Pienciak
A Water Trail of Antibiotics in India
Investigating the Pharmaceutical Industry on a Blog (2 comments)
‘… evidence itself often emerged as the centerpiece, which has a strong impact on the audience when they see for themselves the incriminating paper trail.’
By Ed Silverman
Digging Through Data and Discovering a Profitable Handshake (1 comment)
The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team set out to determine why the state’s health care costs are so high and ended up revealing a hidden deal between powerful forces.
By Marcella Bombardieri and Scott Allen
Toppling the ‘Big Three’—Medical Care, Behavior and Genes (1 comment)
‘Unnatural Causes’ mixes reporting of research rarely featured in traditional news coverage with visual storytelling in the hope of sparking a health equity movement.
By Madeline Drexler
Spreading the News
By Madeline Drexler
Blogs, Watchdog Reporting, and Scientific Malfeasance
‘Bottom line is that it takes time and money to do the kind of muckraking that newspapers have always excelled at, and I’m not sure the blogosphere can reliably reproduce this all-important function.’
By Alison Bass
Investigating What Harms People—As an Independent Reporter (3 comments)
A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter writes about ‘hurdles to obtain meager funding or to overcome editors’ reluctance to support the stories’—and offers suggestions.
By Loretta Tofani
Revealing How Dentists Profit By Abusing Children (33 comments)
In ‘Drilling for Dollars,’ a local TV reporter presented shocking visual and audio testimony about a situation in which children were being needlessly treated and harmed because of corporate greed.
By Roberta Baskin
What Happens When No One Is Watching? (2 comments)
When Congress relinquishes its oversight role of the Food and Drug Administration, the press reduces its watchdog role when it comes to drug safety.
By Morton Mintz
An Online Database Reveals Health Hazards (1 comment)
Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s data, The Center for Public Integrity finds reason to be concerned about some pesticides found in familiar products.
By Michael B. Pell
Probing Toxic Plastics at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A Small Newspaper Tackles a Big Investigative Project (1 comment)
The persistence of two reporters pays off in revealing how local government failed residents who worried about connections between corporate behavior and the high incidence of brain cancer.
By Kevin P. Craver
The Other Side of China’s Economic Miracle
A Chinese reporter describes how he learned about the injuries and illnesses that befall migrants who work in factories where exported products are made.
By Ran An
Medical and Public Health Concerns: Off-Limits in the Russian Press
‘The problem facing public health reporters is not the police; it’s a medical system with little transparency and fear of unemployment.’
By Karl Idsvoog and Max Grubb