How to Make Audiences Love Good Journalism

Changing the way accountability stories are written takes research, preparation, listening and even a bit of psychology. In an excerpt from from a recent American Press Institute report, here are some recommendations from experts about persuasion and communications — as well as examples from news organizations that are using non-narrative, data and visual elements to make the best of journalism better for audiences.

Tools for Measuring Your Group’s Audience and Impact

As news publishers, it’s tempting to think of our analytics like the weather: they just happen to us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By tracking our readers’ behavior and understanding what makes them act a certain way or click on a certain page, we can better understand how to recreate or manipulate their behavior the next time around. The following is a comprehensive list of tools to give you incredible insight into your readership.

How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability: A Knight Study

The proliferation of nonprofit newsrooms is one of the more promising developments in an industry wracked by a crumbling financial base and sweeping technological change. Since 2000, dozens of nonprofit media groups have sprouted, not only across America but worldwide. Many are deeply committed to investigative and accountability journalism, working to fill a void left by a mainstream media that either can’t or won’t do its job as social watchdogs. In April, the Knight Foundation published the third installment in a series of reports since 2011 tracking the progress of nonprofit news sites as they strive for a sustainable financial base. There are lessons here for media nonprofits worldwide.

Investigative Impact: Making the Global Case for Muckraking

At the Google Investigathon on Nov.12, GIJN premiered its latest project, Investigative Impact: How Investigative Journalism Fights Corruption, Promotes Accountability, and Fosters Transparency around the World. GIJN director David Kaplan and board chair Brant Houston showcased the project before nearly 100 people at the New York event, demonstrating through video, graphics, data, and a new website the extraordinary global impact of investigative reporting. The project includes case studies of high-impact reports, video interviews with journalists in 20 countries, infographics, and a resource library.

Journalism and Digital Times: Wider Reach and Sloppy Reporting

Digitization is one of the primary driving forces behind recent changes in journalism, including news values, professional ethics, workflows, working conditions, and newsroom management. The Mapping Digital Media study shows that digital media have not only changed journalism practices in developed countries but have also significantly shaped the way journalists work in emerging markets. Digital media bring opportunities, risks, and challenges to journalism. While digitization facilitates news gathering and dissemination, it does not necessarily foster better journalism. Plagiarism, lack of verification, and other unethical journalistic practices have increased alarmingly in many countries.

Mapping the World’s Digital Media

Digitization has been one of the main drivers behind the changing nature of journalism as it affected news values, professional ethics, workflows, working conditions and newsroom management. On the positive side, it tremendously improved access to information and dissemination channels, but is this ever-more-connected world a better place for independent journalism? The digital switch-over has produced an unprecedented crisis in the supply of public interest journalism— in journalism that is independent, contextual, accountable, and relevant to citizenship.

Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism

Global Muckraking is the first anthology of journalism from developing countries that goes back to the 19th century and includes 46 pieces of iconic reporting, each of which is introduced by a journalist, scholar, historian or activist who explains why the piece was important and what kind of impact it had (or didn’t) after it was published.

Sustainability: A Survival Guide for Nonprofit Investigative Groups

This guide to sustainability for nonprofit investigative journalism groups is adapted from Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support, by GIJN’s David E. Kaplan, published by the Center for International Media Assistance in 2013. 

For more background, see GIJN’s Sustainability Resources page.One of the bright spots in investigative journalism over the past decade has been the rapid spread of nonprofits dedicated to supporting in-depth journalism around the world. A 2012 survey by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) identified 106 investigative journalism nonprofits in nearly 50 countries – with more than half of them founded in the past five years. The list includes nonprofit newsrooms, online publishers, professional associations, grant-making funds, NGOs, training institutes, and academic centers. About half are based in the United States, where the hollowing out of traditional media has sparked the founding of dozens of these nonprofit newsrooms at the state and local level. Moreover, the trend does not appear to be abating.

South African Awards Showcase Impressive Investigations

Despite a tough environment for investigative reporting, South Africa’s muckrakers are turning out some of the world’s best journalism year after year. Here are the finalists and winner of the just announced Taco Kuiper Awards, that country’s highest prize for investigative journalism. In the awards presentation, Wits University Journalism Professor Anton Harber talked about the extraordinary range of reports submitted, from corrupt officials and crooks to rhino horn smuggling, bad doctors, botched circumcisions, and lion hunting.