The Internet is the perfect tool to bring back investigative reporting. It can be used passively as a large research database where reporters can spend endless hours researching previous cases and events. Talking Points Memo blogger Justin Rood used the Internet to scan for other instances of U.S. attorney firings. By having such a large database at hand, Rood was able to piece the story together by finding isolated articles in various local newspapers. “Within days, Rood had identified seven U.S. attorneys who were suddenly out of a job, “many under unusual circumstances.” Meticulous Internet research helped expose corruption and compelled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to quit.
The Internet can also be utilized as an interactive device that can transmit news tips and sources from the audience to the blogger. TPM takes advantage of the Internet’s interactive capabilities and receives news from its readers constantly. “For weeks, coverage of the U.S. attorney firings on TPM was propelled by tips from readers, some of them emailed to the bloggers and some posted as comments on TPM sites.” Using the audience to sift through or discover information is an efficient way to rack up more research as long as the blogger piecing the story together fact checks the news tips coming in.
I think the article by Will Bunch offered some interesting insight regarding the concept of using other journalists’ work. I think a lot of people are under the impression that bloggers rip off work from other news sites, change one or two points and then claim it as their own original reporting. However, Bunch says that by using information already established by other news organizations, journalists can save time since the data has already been fact-checked. Blogs such as TPM may use news tidbits already reported, but they certainly don’t claim it as their own. They give credit where credit is due by either citing the original news source or by linking to it. Bunch also recognizes that because blogs do not have to devote time and attention to a broad range of news stories, they are able to allocate their resources toward a specific story. Therefore, there reporting is more thorough and deep. Investigative reporting at its finest!
This is all part of the mounting notion of transparency. I full heartedly agree with the blogger behind “Joho the Blog” when the author states that transparency is the new form of objectivity. Personally, I do not believe that objectivity can truly exist. Everyone has their own predispositions and beliefs. It’s inevitable. Your experiences, careers, friends, family, and genetic makeup can all impact your outlook on the world. Therefore, how can your reporting not be somewhat biased towards your personal opinions. I believe transparency will allow better reporting because the journalist does not have to constantly fear that their writing is slanted towards a particular view or they don’t have an an equal number of sources championing a particular side. In my opinion, this line of thinking often delivers dry, fragmented and isolated news clips. Writers do not delve into the issue enough because they do not want to risk coming across as biased. Transparency will solve this issue! Writers can post their political leanings publicly and link to the sources where they received their information to help give the audience a full accurate picture. I think transparency will also make readers feel more comfortable with asking questions, which will allow them to plunge into a world of political discourse. Free and open political discourse on the Internet can only aid democracy.
I really liked the account about NPR focussing their camera on the lobbyists mentioned in an article by The Guardian. The idea of getting information from the viewers to show who the lobbyists were and where they interests lie was brilliant and so eye-opening! Lobbyists have always had their own agenda, and I always felt like it was kept in the dark. But now, the Internet has allowed people to expose what types of interests propel Congress to make the decisions that approve or turn down bills.