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  1. Reg Chua
    Reg Chua at |

    Kevin, you’re right – it is hard to make a business off investigations. I think it’s probably true that great stories will bring lots of traffic – possibly even significant subscription revenue (think documentaries). But the problem is that it isn’t really scalable or dependable as an income stream (think documentaries). The people who have managed to do this as a business – that aren’t non-profits dependent on grants – are essentially bespoke reporters; private investigators by another name.

    And it’s also true that investigations have traditionally been a small part of what news organizations do; there’s a lot of harking back to an imagined past that didn’t exist, where every paper was a paragon of public service and broke important stories of official corruption every day. That’s not to say it’s not an issue that old media is in trouble; only that we should recognize what we did and what we are – because only then can we really move forward. Reg

  2. Joy Mayer
    Joy Mayer at |

    Great piece. If your point about investigations is heresy, I’ll jump off the cliff with you. Investigative reporting is absolutely critical, but it’s hard to see a mainstream business model emerging from that area.

    I’m following TBD’s efforts on this thing we’re calling \engagement.\ On a staff of 40-ish, six people are on Steve Buttry’s engagement team, for things like community outreach, social media and cultivating the network of bloggers. It’s just fascinating, and I don’t know of any other news organization going after its relationship with a community so aggressively. (Here’s my look at it: http://rjiblog.org/2010/09/21/what-engagement-means-to-tbd-com/)

  3. Joy Mayer
    Joy Mayer at |

    If that’s heresy, I’ll jump off the cliff right along with you. I would never argue that investigations aren’t important, but a business model based around them isn’t the safest bet.

    I’m paying close attention to TBD for my work on engagement. (I wrote about them here: http://rjiblog.org/2010/09/21/what-engagement-means-to-tbd-com/) On a staff of 40-something people, six people are dedicated to engagement. And for TBD, that means outreach and conversation (listening+talking), digitally and in person, along with responsibility for the huge network of bloggers. It’s the most aggressive approach to redefining relationship with community that I’ve run across so far.

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