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Mar 25, 2008

NEWS: Blogging: the equal of in-depth narrative journalism?

Blogging: the equal of in-depth narrative journalism?

At the Nieman Narrative Conference, Nieman fellow Josh Benton offered up what Poynterblogger Roy Peter Clark, a self-described veteran of writing conferences, characterizes as "the most dynamic presentation" on blogging that he has ever seen. 

Benton proposed that eye-witness reporting in real-time via blogs is a interesting and complementary component to long-form narrative journalism. The theory was derived from a work by author James Fenton, an advocate for what he terms "journalism in its natural state," in which natural journalism is an antidote for the vanilla, rehashed wire copy that frequently crops up. 

Benton then went on to create a chart that he calls The Benton Curve of Journalistic Interestingness (see photo). In this view, blogging becomes "a form of critical reportage rather than a form of standard commentary or self-expression," writes Clark. 

Benton described two different periods in which a story is at its "most interesting:" right after the event, and then later on, once an investigative writer has moved beyond the basic what, when, where, how, and why, and found a unique angle for a long form narrative piece.  Conversely, the story is at its least interesting when it's in the "conventional reporting" stage, in between blogging and narrative. 

No one would argue that blogs are becoming an increasingly important news source. And they do have more liberty to search out what's interesting. But is conventional reporting as trite as Benton's chart would have it seem?

Let us know if you think Benton is on to something.

Source: PoynterOnline
Ed: Timeliness versus depth of analysis.

Investigative journalism struggling to survive

The Columbian Journalism Review asks the question: If newsrooms are in a state of financial woes, will investigative journalism, which is expensive and time-consuming, survive? 

While bigger papers are holding onto it, regional and local papers are finding it difficult to do so. 

Investigative reporter Loretta Tofani conducted a freelance investigation of hazardous Chinese labor practices, which was rejected by three papers before The Salt Lake Tribune picked it up. Because The Tribune could not afford its own investigative work, Tofani had to finance her whole investigation on her own. "It was very difficult doing [the Tribune story] as a freelancer. I'm not sure if I would do that again," said Tofani.

Though finding papers to publish investigative reports is not easy, investigative journalism is not giving up yet. The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting attracted 120 entries this year, a number that is consistent with past years. 

Also, Paul E. Steiger, former Wall Street Journal managing editor, heads ProPublica, a nonprofit, non partisan investigative journalism project that hopes to be the "best financed shop for investigative journalism." 

Investigative journalism is a valuable form of journalism because it "is one of the things [investigative reporters are] able to make a difference in that not everyone else can," according to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest.

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