What does the future of investigative journalism look like?

22 July 2011

The House of Lords Communications Committee has launched its new inquiry into the future of investigative journalism this week. Economic and technological changes in the media sector in recent years, and the extent to which investigative journalism has been thrown into the spotlight recently, mean that now is an appropriate time to consider the future of journalism in a difficult media environment.

Investigative journalism is vital for a healthy democracy. However, traditional business models for delivering this content are under threat from declining newspaper readership, migration of print advertising to online and fragmenting TV audiences. These trends – coupled with the events of the last few weeks - raise urgent questions about the potential to harness the power of new technologies to complement traditional media in ensuring the continuation of a strong journalistic culture.

The Committee will consider “citizen journalism” and participatory journalism, which have emerged with the rise of social media, and will look at what role these elements might play in the future of investigative journalism.

The Committee invite written evidence on areas including:

  • The changing media landscape – how do we consume news and is this changing?
  • The role of investigative journalism – how does it safeguard democracy? How can the merits of a story be assessed?
  • Paying for investigative journalism – are readers, listeners & viewers prepared to pay for the skills of serious reporting? What new business models are likely to emerge to safeguard the future of investigative journalist?

Commenting on the new inquiry, Committee Chairman Lord Inglewood said:

“Events of the last few weeks, while reflecting very badly on some areas of the media, serve as a reminder of the importance of investigative journalism. Our inquiry is focused very much on what the future of investigative journalism will look like - how is the industry going to respond to likely technological and regulatory change. How will this impact on the stories we read? And how will society’s relationship with the media develop? We want to examine the changes that investigative journalism now faces, and how the culture surrounding it will progress going forward”.

Image: iStockphoto

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