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Documentary looks at how layoffs affect investigative journalism

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MisterCreosote, May 17, 2012.

  1. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    These filmmakers are trying to get funding for this documentary, which follows laid-off journalists and examines how staffing cuts have affected the industry, in particular investigative reporting.


    The trailer:

  2. The focus has shifted from American politics to American Idol.
  3. ZummoSports

    ZummoSports Member

    Some staffs are so thin that editors worry more about filling the paper than doing solid in depth enterprise. Where I am, if one person is missing it feels like the wheels are going to fall off.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    My feeling is that large-scale, big-issue investigations continue at large newspapers for the most part. What hurts the public far more is that we no longer spend nearly as much money on scrutinizing municipalities' "inside baseball" on a daily basis. My publisher, who is that rare exec who is sincere when he's eloquent, once said, "I've seen what happens when a community loses its daily newspaper -- it goes blind." Same thing happens when we still exist but can't afford to pay close attention to meetings of the city council and school board.
  5. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Look how Yahoo whipped the South Florida papers on the Miami Hurricanes story. I bet there are plenty of papers that can still do metro investigations but would be strapped for a sports investigation.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Having worked on a paper that won a Pulitzer for a sports investigation a couple years before I arrived there, I mean no disrespect (especially to Yahoo's skill) in saying that if I ran the newspaper, usually I would choose to spend the money investigating something more crucial to my readers' lives rather than something that is merely interesting to them, such as sports. Funny, that particular paper was a Pulitzer finalist a few years later for investigative work that was of greater importance, even nationally, just not as sexy as a probe of a university athletic department. If I could do both, fine, but if I could choose just one for an expensive, time-consuming blowout, I would choose the one that is of greater societal impact because ultimately that is why I wanted to be in this biz in the first place. There are other, less expensive, ways to be merely interesting.

    I have long been convinced that each of the sports investigations that have won Pulitzers were rewarded not for the importance of those stories, but for the papers' courage in risking the wrath of those who compose the bulk of their readers and advertisers. So while I appreciate Yahoo's skill in obtaining the Miami story, there was no such risk and there likely never will be for them, and I do not believe Yahoo ought to have been granted that honor even if it had managed to outdo Harrisburg on the Penn State scandal. This is, at best, a complex exercise of great journalism skill for Yahoo or, more cynically, a vast expenditure in quest of glory -- not a service to the greater good, which is the very heart of what the best investigative work ought to be intended to produce.
  7. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    That story broke a year earlier in at least one South Florida paper. So did the papers not pursue it because of a lack of investigative resources or because it didn't rank high enough on the "greater importance" list?

    Either way, the layoffs must have hampered the ability to chase the news on a watchdog story with plenty of historical relevance down there.
  8. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    I think much of it of it comes down to how much time they are willing to donate to the company. Somethings like flights to wherever won't exist, but if it is a local investigative story, there are ways it can still be done. Again, though, it comes down to how much an overworked, underpaid employee is willing to do on their own time.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    You would hope they at least would have a lawyer pal take a look at it, if not an out-of-work editor or six. You may not need a huge newsroom behind you, but going solo would be sheer madness. And the thing is, the people who think their work does not need another set of eyes are almost always the people who need that help the most.
  10. I think you're oversimplifying here. In fact, I think investigative stories typically choose us -- you've come across something, somehow, through your beat reporting, research or whatever, and you follow the threads. Sometimes, to go Jeopardy on it, you get Investigative Story for $100 or $200, and sometimes you get the Daily Double.

    (Edit for botching of quote function.)
  11. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you went Vincent Vega on that one.
  12. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    This is a real issue, but you won't get much sympathy from people in other industries, because there have been a lot of industries affected by layoffs in recent years.
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