Investigative Journalism and the Future of Newspapers

January 25th, 2009

I’m torn.

A twitter can alert us to breaking news at speeds far faster than any newspaper ever could.

Yet with its 140-character limit it surely cannot do much more than create an alert and a quick observation. There’s a huge gulf between a twitter and investigative journalism.

In a perfect world, Twitter would eventually interact with the in-depth stories that would follow important twitters. This isn’t happening yet. I don’t doubt that Twitter would welcome the connections, but as newspaper journalists are being sidelined left, right and center, there are far fewer folks taking on the task of finding out what might have been behind a earlier twitter.

There are numerous accounts that describe the decline in newspapers and journalism generally, but I think that as fine an article as I’ve encountered is by James Warren in the current issue of The Atlantic. The arguments are not dramatically different than those who have covered this subject previously encountered, but they are clearly and succinctly expressed.

We need to make decisions around where we’re going to find the investigative equivalent of what the print press traditionally handled better than any other medium. Warren’s article convincingly argues that there is no extant Web substitute. So will we forgo investigative journalism, or is there another solution?