Investigative journalism today

Investigative journalism today



wow it's great to see so many people here what is it about investigative journalism going on I'm Rosie Waterhouse not rose and I my current I'm a freelance journalist but I've worked for five national newspapers that he's night but here and I also developed an MA in investigative journalism so I guess that's why I've been asked to chair this we've got three really distinguished journalists whose specialty is investigating digging long-term projects I'm gonna start Alice Alice Ross a former student of mine star student of mine it has to be say from the bureau of investigative journalism started at the bureau I believe the day you left the course yeah great stuff and team team leader of the drones project news very innovative investigative website breaking stories just been shortlisted for one of the old world prizes Solomon use Private Eye one of the most wonderful publications there is and if anyone here is a journalism student I can recommend it it's essential reading you'll find so many stories there so I think Solomon would you yes sorry sophis off I will indeed just the pressure of time that so I stood up to so we could get it going quickly so yeah I realized I've written my piece of paper my name is Solomon Hughes in case we got there obviously but I am I'm principally a reporter for pro I've Private Eye but I'm going to I work in I do bits of freelance for some of the Nationals as well and they talk a bit about those as well because I think they show the context a bit if I tell you that how it works at Private Eye that just tells you how it works at Private Eye which is unlike the rest of the press so it doesn't really give you a broader sense of it of some of the barriers to investigative reporting so I'm going to talk about stories outside of private eye but you just have to imagine when I talk about the problems just put in brackets in your head except at Private Eye these barriers don't exist there now a lot of the things I'm going to talk about some quite shallow investigative reporting quite shallow dig because the point is I mean I've done deeper stories but some of the stories I'm going to do here pay for pressure of time and B to make a point they're not that complicated but the fact that I can make a bit of a living doing that shows that there's a weakness of investigative reporting in the national press there's some really good stuff I don't know didn't go to James Dean's thing on PPI this morning us a really good story there's loads of really good stories but it's very uneven there's a little problem with there's not an even there's not enough investigative reporting in the national press and the fact that I can you know basically fairly straightforward stories shows shows that right so here's a nice simple story in the independent quite recently former Tory Minister Charles Henry to be consultant to Russian linked oil firms I mean are there going to be sanctions on Russia over Ukraine well not if recent Tory ministers get their way because he's gone for a working for a firm vital it's an ultra oil trader with huge deals with Rosneft and gas from that state oil firms pretty straightforward story in the independent me and Tom Harper they're how I found it it's not complicated use check the register of members interests mp's interests published every fortnight during sessions term time for MPS this is actually a screenshot people the front will see these people is a back wound but it's a screenshot of his interest and they I didn't highlight that in yellow they highlight it in yellow the new entries so I mean how hard is that he says he's going to work for vital obviously it relies on some business knowledge you'd have to think for the people at the back can't see it says Charles Henry I've got a new job at vital 60 grand that's not hard to you there's some business knowledge you'd want in their vital should ring bells to anyone with any business knowledge vital were prosecuted for kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government bribing Saddam Hussein's government to be the other way around isn't it they avoided sanctions on oil free around so that should ring Bell but even if it didn't you could just when I first started in the late 90s I would just check those things who were vital and in this case the the issue which I wasn't so conscious of came up that they had these big Russian deals so that's it that's that's a fairly straightforward story but the fact that I could make a few quit doing that and get my name out shows there's a weakness of investigative reporting in the national press they're my strengths their weakness is what I'm saying there's another issue about difficulty of getting investigative reporting in the national press it's all about News values and in news values there's or news of the structured news as Westminister correspondence and there's the business correspondence and they cannot go through the news desk as if you're freelancing with something and if you hear the word news desk for me it always kills a story the news desk alike a filter that stops really interesting stories for some reason I don't know why but there's there's these two great Westminster correspondents and business correspondents the Westminster correspondence know about Westminster personalities in that in the way of personalities who's up who's down and the business desk knows about business but the two don't seem to communicate so the vital story just falls in the middle there so that's enough that's a weakness to do with news values it's an advantage to me to be honest all the advice all the weaknesses in the national press are great for our three careers you know they're good for us but they're bad for you this is a shame this weakness this news values weakness because our Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech just before coming into office saying that the next big scandal waiting to happen was the relationship between business and industry lobbying ministers getting jobs with private companies like Charles Henry did is seen as a Cameron became prime minister say the Prime Minister says this is the next big scandal you would think people would pay attention but it's actually somewhat underreported it's also I think it's present in the popular culture oh Senapati does it do other people watch salamander excellent isn't it yeah it's just old people isn't it because we like box sets because they're the young people are out enjoying themselves absolutely there you go they go but again we're stuck inside who else watches salamander No it's a detective show but salamander is a secret organization and this is a quote from the show it's a sort of interest group they arrange appointments to high office and ensure each other's companies win government contracts now obviously in the show they also will shoot each other and sleep with each other whereas in the real world they just sleep with each other so but it's in the popular consciousness or in homeland see who's watched homeland series three excellent it's a bank h lb c is the corrupt bank involved in surround st. anne's busting with iran so you know what I'm saying is this conflict is there it it's in the bloody telly that's been the Prime Minister's mouth but he's in the newspapers but not enough or I wouldn't have a job News values again simplicity the news like simplicity here's a story I did another Tory MP Gerald health Howarth sorry xx Minister stopping a minister took a job with quick wit payday lender will the government regulate payday lenders no because they're all going to get jobs with them is the story there how I find that register of members interest again bit bigger for those with the backhoe with poor eyesight his new job with as a consultant CN u online Holdings LLC in over of a little Chicago now some digging not very deep I had to get the annual report of that company and figure out that they own quick quit the payday lender I mean to be honest it's got a bloody sign on it as and it's got a flashing light why is the MB MP for older shop working for a company in Chicago something's wrong have a look so but unfortunately just that slight kind of weirdness there adds a bit of complexity so in the story this is the actual story you have to have a line that says quick with the British subsidiary of CN u Holdings to which to Gerald Howarth is contracted and it's that little bit if it is the independent we're okay with that that's no problem but it's just that funny awkwardness that breaks up the story and if you go for something bigger some bigger piece of lobbying or more complex people peace of loving typically it's going to involve proxy's intermediaries it's going to be heavily disguised and that makes reporting difficult because the news value is simplicity I think for us three we we have we rely on our readers being having a high tolerance for complexity but unfortunately not all news that that's not always a news value so that's the kind of barrier again it made a job for me but it's a problem in the news the next news value is sexiness sexy news this is a story from The Daily Mail they've quite an old one now Tory Dana snaps up Olympic Village at a knockdown price and it's costing you 275 million Jaime Rick Blatt he's he's from a long-standing business family gave 50 million to the fifty thousand sorry to the Tories and then won this contract for to buy the Olympic Village when the Olympics are over that's a huge loss to the public in this story Daily Mail story there's a code word which you can spot in the newspapers it says it was only this week that it emerged how does a story emerge what that means is I did it a story in private I the week before and then they stole it that's what emerging is emerging means someone else did the story first now how did I do this story I went to the website of the Electoral Commission you can do this and then this tab here says look up donations and then there's a search page that's sort of awkward and a bit hard to use but a couple of tries and you get to use it you can search by name or minimum value and party that's quite important so I did this search and then you can see the search for those who can read it says Delancy retail e estate ass asset management it was 50 grand to the Tories this is from the Tory Party website the leaders group for that you can join the leaders group of the Conservative Party for 50 thousand pound and if you do it's I quote the premier support group of the Conservative Party members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners Post pmq launches what I do you get to meet David Cameron for 50 quid that's our salamander it's not a secret group it's on a bloody website and and it's a checks payable 50 grand to salamander incorporated so that's a clue actually you should always search the Electoral Commission website for payments of 50 grand because they met Cameron so that's how the story is done and it worked because it's the sexy news value is the Olympics because the Olympics was on the telly it allows you to have pictures of muscly young people glistening in the Sun and and it's and it's another story that exists that you're tying on to where is this story unsexy news sorry these are all a bit small but if this is the website of the Advisory Committee on business appointments which regulator which regulates MPs that regulates ministers new jobs with industry when they leave being a minister it's a toothless regulator which is great for journalists because it publishes the truth but doesn't do anything about it so we can just write a mainly story and it showed that Lord Strathclyde former cabinet minister had got a new job with urs Corporation and that's not sexy because who are you RS corporation and you know that's boring isn't it really but of course you air us you are S corporation a big American contractor running sellafield the nuclear site that used to be called Windscale for a people of a certain age which is and they're running it really badly it's a billion pound disaster but their contract was renewed shortly after they gave Lord Strathclyde a job but that's unsexy because it's there's no muscly people there's no it's not on the telly anyway it's not in the south it's in the north so that's unsexy news that's news values obviously we do do that story in private I should I keep rattling all those little man how am i doing for time here ah this can we go to you give your duction about using new techniques alongside traditional skills to dig it for stories so I work for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and we are a non-profit young kids and these agencies in the United States our longest-running projects could be happen in three years now is sort of gigantic sprawling database tracking drone strikes in Pakistan Yemen and Somalia I was just listening to Sullivan talking about sexy verses here on the sexy years and I've never sure where drones fall into that whole spectrum is going to get a lot of fascination from people in capture the imagination but actually what we're concerned with is targeted killing which is slightly separate from drones and basically there are two key uses on the drones when he be used on the battlefields alongside other military equipment so example in Afghanistan in Libya in Iraq or since 2002 the US has also been carrying out secret drone bombing raids in Pakistan Yemen in Somalia and it's those that we're interested in so by our 2011 the campaign when the bombing in Pakistan was seven years in and it was basically an open secret President Obama had lost more than two hundred stone strikes and yet you know without bill official discussion office on this program there was a real tendency towards selective transparency selective discussion and that that remains the case very much because you get senior US officials going on the record saying these drones are so accurate they haven't killed a single civilian in in the past year and that is a very easy claim to test so we set out to you know reports of civilian you were not hard to find so we set out to aggregate and to come up with a sort of methodological robust way of measuring that our testing these claims and we spent months essentially drawing together all of the information that we could find that was in the public domain that was our starting points you know I mean we're talking about secret bombings but they're not it's very hard stone bombing in secrets basically they do get reported on so we pulled together all of the information that we could find and we assembled it into a sort of into a very low-tech database on phone of drone strikes and of casualties and then that allowed us to then zoom in and highlight strikes that we felt were called particular concern our starting point was that claim that there have been no civilian deaths in the past year I mean easily identified ten individual strikes and we got local reporters to go out and investigate those strikes and without there were over 200 civilians below sorry there were reports of over 200 civilian deaths obviously it's very very hard to empirically test these things but there were credible indications credible evidence of over 200 civilians killed stabbed at points and we were able to put together and publish a database transparently sourced and showing the evidence of the supporting these claims has a be not only field investigation to Paxman someone was just talking about spam the sort of the very careful language that you end up having to use the certainly our readers are very used to you know these are you know reports of civilian deaths that's you know all of those sort of disclaimers come in and the end of the day the American government does categorically deny the claims that there are several hundred city he killed in drone strikes and they will dismiss those claims as new depress all we can do is put the evidence the presented to people as transparent as we can with what you do with that database once you've got it and we used it as a basis for our own investigations and so we use that we excuse it with floor trends and tactics that have been used almost three years on we expanded into Yemen and into Somalia and just the very process of tending map date so sort of maintaining it and updating it and you know really adding to our understanding of each strike take my colleague Jack who's just there there's basically a full-time job for him it provides an evidence base with which you can sweets nice or with the official claims and every now and then people do still make claims you know for example oh let's be fewer than fewer than 10 single single-digit casualties and every year the drone campaign we can question that really and also what the databases that you put there they've also acted as a resource for other but other media organizations and in some senses that's probably the most important aspect of our work really is informing the debate providing an evidential foundation on which others can sort of report on this extremely complex national security area so I mean I guess the things that we use have they haven't been very technologically sophisticated all it just requires a lot of time a lot of attention to detail and the sort of real methodological rigor and that's what we've done Thanks well certainly I actually think these are very exciting times for journalism and in particular very exciting times for investigative journalism and there's not something you very often hear people say it is so not something you hear an investigative journalist say very often and the reason for it is also somewhat surprising it's in reaction to what's gone before Salomon talks about the shortcomings shall we say of our industry on the whole and I can only endorse them to a great degree but in particular we've had the rise of what has been dubbed journalism which is the practice of whichever category you fit in with your westminster correspondent or business correspondent sitting in a desk sitting at a desk in an office that resembles a back and rewriting press releases or possibly attending a press briefing in which someone's going to give you a load of old nonsense which you're going to report as if it might be true so we've had journalism and it really turns off readers in my view what we've also had and we've had the exposure of is dark arts the use of techniques that are not really investigative not really the right techniques for investigative journalists to use but as shortcuts and the big baddie behind all this I can tell you is the accountant it is the accountants mentality that said it's a very good idea to have journalists working in serried ranks behind desks as if they were working in a bank and rewriting press releases and they also thought it would be a good idea that if we're going to do anything vaguely investigative then let's do the surefire bet of hacking phones and raiding bins what's come out of this is a sense that we have to do things differently it might well be to some degree returning to what was done a long time ago and that is real journalism and we're seeing arise I think of new organizations springing up left right and center in America in the UK indeed continental Europe which are practicing real journalism so xro is an example of one of these new new ish organizations we were launched two and a half years ago xro is an investigative website which publishes often long-running investigations it will do some shallow ones as well from time to time quick hits a little bit of digging but more often than not there's a lot of digging involved and we're often reporting to the degree as we go along which is something of an innovation in times gone by you would sit there and spend a year or two working in a world of action and then eventually you would produce it we tend to sort of investigate and produce stories as we go along now in terms of some of the stories that xro has broken we were responsible for uncovering extraordinary practice of senior civil servants working for all sorts of Whitehall departments and agencies but not being on the payroll and they had a very clever little ruse which involves setting up a personal service company for each and every one of them and being paid through the personal service company it was a very useful device to avoid paying tax now this was a story that initially we were tipped off about it was our Westminster correspondent who doesn't spend all this time sat at a desk he was in a pub which is where you should be and a mole told him about this extraordinary practice and the mole in particular said it was a practice at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills but said it was widespread throughout Whitehall well of course you can't run a story on a single source and a pub no matter how good the source was and it was a very good source and we started digging at that point and we were using open access techniques we were using for the Information Act in particular now because we had an inside source we were directed towards a particularly what we were told was a stark case concerning a guy called ed Lester who was the at the time he's not now chief executive of the student loans company and so we started digging around making FOIA requests for material that surrounds his contracts and his contract negotiations and as often a half of with FOIA freedom information we were rebuffed but because we had an inside source we were guided as to how to slightly amend our requests until one day a great wreath of documents landed on a desk that a twist was the cause woman doesn't spend that much time sitting at and then we started going through a honey set out the story very clearly it was a bit complicated this is often the way with the world but nonetheless it was clear enough the guy had been paid and had pressed to be paid through his personal service company which was a device that could save him tens of thousands of pounds now we did that as a one-off story we did initially with new tonight we had we often work with mainstream media organizations we work with television news programs as well as national newspapers and the story did have an immediate effect there was an emergency debate in the parliament the next day everyone could see it was an outrageous scandal and Danny Alexander then it's still true Secretary to the Treasury ordered a review and the review looked into how widespread this practice was and because we're pretty good with our inside sources we of course got to find out the results of that before that was published and it turned out staggeringly that little more more than 2,000 of these civil servants were senior civil servants working on that basis and the story has gone on from there we just recently uncovered another chief executive of another government agency who is doing the same thing and so far we are aware of about 125 civil servants who have been reported to the HMRC for possible tax evasion so real consequences that flowed from that exposure we have done quite a lot around sort of bribery and corruption surrounding defense contracts that British companies have overseas one of our investigations resulted in the Serious Fraud Office launching a criminal investigation not that they take these things terribly seriously and are not exactly working assiduously and similarly we've been investigating a series of high-profile people who we have so far not named over allegations of child sex abuse and caused one specific Quinlan investigation known as Operation fern bridge to start as a result of our work in that area but broadly the way xro works is traditional journalistic methods our guys in pubs up and down the land Belfast in Westminster wherever it may be Brussels and then using the open access laws in every which way I mean I'm using open access here in a very wide context so it's not just Freedom of Information it covers you know disclosures made to select committees things like registered members interest all these so there are so many sources out there that can be consulted and in particular we have developed a sort of arm of data journalism which is very focused on taking advantage if you like or exploiting the tentative steps that the government is making towards what it calls transparency not necessary what I would call transparency but actually in fairness they are making steps along this road and in particular they are increasingly making basic data available and I think the vague idea is that we're going to have an army of armchair auditors going through this data complete fancy lab that's complete nonsense what journalists can do if they are willing to spend some time not just rewriting press releases or practicing the dark arts is actually getting a handle on this data and making sense of it and reporting on it and one of the particularly innovative things that we're doing is we're approaching this sort of analysis of data to both produce stories editorial content while at the same time producing data products that have commercial value so x-ray is unusual in that its aim in the long run is to be a self-financing a commercial operation and the real roots that we're using for and for a revenue driver is the sale of add-on data services that is almost a byproduct of our data journalism and beyond that we of course do do a lot of tie ups with existing mainstream media and one things I would say about I mean I've heard the independent mention but is true of lots of other papers red top tabloids as well as broadsheets is often the journalist working they would love to be doing this stuff and they really like to work with us because it becomes a bit more practical where we've probably done the bulk of the legwork and they will just sort of write it perhaps in a slightly different way because they're quite good at rewriting things that's what they mostly do after all and even then they don't don't often even bother with that because often with these stories that are quite complicated a key thing is trying to encapsulate what is the essence of a story that will take hold so for example the idea of senior civil servants working a way that enables them to avoid tax in that did take hold it wasn't might have been complicated at roots but the basic idea was quite simple so I would urge you to keep watching out for this great material that we're putting out through x-ray news calm and with people in the mainstream media with whom we work conversation and then QA lots of time for Q&A so people keep the conversation quite short one of the the reasons I was interested to share this is that the title is three very different investigative journalists talk about how they are using new techniques alongside traditional skills to dig for stories and this is where my my course comes in the MA and does give you Anderson which is quite niche specialist twenty twenty two students where essentially and I developed this course which is to use methods and sources old and new so I am the old starting out on a weekly newspaper I'm doing the really traditional route of digging and shoe leather journalism going to the problem getting stories but I realized that the today generation of journalists has to have all the new skills so I'm bringing people to teach things like computer-assisted reporting advanced research skills so I wanted to ask Alice who's protegees if you like can you tell us about the methods and sources old and new how do you if some in some detail of particularly explaining the fundamentals that we rely on as a journalist but then all the new wizzy stuff and social media and data and everything that's out there the tsunami of information that you deal with there is absolutely no me of information I wouldn't say that any of our methods are particularly wizzy or sophisticated they're all to do with devising a method of dealing with all of the information and method and yet the assembling later and then applying it as rigorously as you can so our primary sources are you know open source media reports court testimonies NGO field investigations information from our own field researchers and you bring all of that together it's like a jigsaw puzzle you're trying to build to put together a picture of each drone strike a lot of the time as well particularly in Yemen reports will emerge from social media from Twitter and they're the challenges of you know those old skills and verification you know how do I trust this source how do I trust what they're telling me those those challenges are there that once new and old you know and you can use glue techniques you can look at who they're talking to on Twitter I mean they're just variations on on very long-established so we're taking sort of news reports of all these are all these other sources speaking to our own sources to see how it how it squares whether it whether it passes the smell test really a lot of the time and then boiling those all into data and it's only even if the databases that we use they're not sophisticated it's all about keeping it really quite simple you know if you're putting together data it's very difficult if you're getting a government database and interrogating it yourself you know we are assembling the data ourselves based on these reports so you met you mentioned Twitter and my friend Twitter I must be one of the few left which other as you don't tweet I did I was taught how to tweet and I have posted one tweet which said thank you very much for this lesson but I realize as a journalist I mean I don't need to you know I teach it I do my freelancing using my own sources and methods very old-fashioned but I realize that for my students but all journalists need to tweet now but Solomon I wonder do you have a right I do because you have to generate profile I don't really get anything from it to others I feel because it's for free and the private eye model is that if you buy our magazine for one pound six to your takeout subscription we'll use that money to pay writers and I think all the social media stuff all the business stuff is like what you now go and do it for free ruling so which gems you have to do teaching some stuff like really they've got to do it's an imposition it's like being your own intern it's the night the in terms of new methods I mean terms a lot it you used to have to go to companies house to get annual reporting you have to sit this funny little groove in London great I know once you get it so it's the same thing but actually it's much quicker I mean that side of can be much quicker the law and the registered normal secrecy had to go to it not to see the full register but to see that the Dender to get to go to the house of laws and meet some official I don't know but it was like you know you know fancy dress it opened a little file and that's you know those things in terms of social media the one I find for is the most useful is LinkedIn actually because people put their CV on LinkedIn and they they even put themselves in their best life and tell you about all their from that and that's actually more useful I think than Facebook because if people central except their own security things right and also because the Association I think you think about your face like FBI agents complete CVS and who they marry to things like that it's amazing the information on social media and first of all I was I am absolutely against anyone anyone thinking of the idea of doing any journalism or any writing without being paid action and so came back to Twitter specifically actually I think with all these things they all have a use for a journalistic point of view and that's your the main use that I've seen not as me personally but members of my team for Twitter is just a way of people calm people out there contacting you people coming forward one of the things that I say we find from doing writing stories as in sense we're investigating which is which is true of all of our biggest stories whether it's the Rupert Murdoch exposure for secret recordings or the tax white or tax scandal or the VIP pedophiles story we get people coming forwards and Twitter is a kind of common waiter or other there's a phone still and there's still email and and other methods but Twitter is another route so all these things have their uses and as a journalist as a practicing journalist you just need to know everything you need to know how to use compass house and you need to know how to use it now you need to know how to access documents that have been filed in a high court that's what real pallava you can't do that online yet but whatever it is you just need to know how do you find various members interests all the rest of it how do you find someone's currently no CV through LinkedIn and so on and so forth you just need every single one of these techniques to combine whether they're new or old and you have to use them all you have to know the wall okay that's tough questions to what extent you think is true that newspapers concentrate more on politicians misdemeanors then on you know people in the city big business and their misdemeanors well and why do you think if that's true why do you think that is I can tell you I mean I used to work for a business newspaper called Sunday business when ran the Investigations Unit there and business journalists are almost as bad as showbiz journalists who are almost as bad as political journalists for just listen listening to the spin doctors and being manipulated by the PR gaffe and maybe I could be Otto slightly wrong it's probably political journalists showbiz journalists and then business journalist getting worse as I went along business is a bit complicated people find it especially journal it's low journalists are completely innumerous which is not good and don't understand anything about business if you can't add up it makes it quite difficult to understand anything about business so yours it's especially easy to pull the wool over journalists eyes in that area business journalism is an area where PR reigns supreme stories are given like favors it was in the political world like this too but especially in the business world because business journalists got no idea what they're doing on the whole of course there are the occasional exception it meant that some point back in a way to Solomon's point earlier it's great for us if you're actually willing to go digging because there's just so much to go for and when when I ran investigated you know Sunday business it was just amazing the stories that were going begging and it often be stuff that was based on court documents that you'd have to find or obscure employment tribunals where you'd find out about the widespread cocaine practices of senior bankers or whatever and we did name banks on it and I remember a bank going absolutely ballistic I won't name exactly I think I might be forgetting the exact details but I won't name it now but they weren't absolutely ballistic and can't understand how this story had possibly surfaced another eye publications were scared of it but it was all in privileged documents give us some court documents that we could happily fairly and accurately report and so business journalism is really hopeless I think there's also sort of a structural way the journals and works that is personality driven and so politicians are personalities businesses are faceless corporate structures now in private guide to some extent we just just did the story anyway but in a little way you try to make the business their personality to get through that so a toss who do the crappy testing of people for disability benefits and it was horrible we always couldn't give a toss we just do that all the time before capital of privatizing they always called Krakatau and you just try and make them a personality to get round that I mean I started one of the earliest big breakthroughs I made was with Enron covering anyone's activities in this country they were just rotten there's another site whatever which is kind of simple things that if the politician is bribed they will talk about the bribe Paulito talk about the president received a bribe but not the first new gaming which i think is partly that personality driven figure is I don't know he's partly and it is an assumption but almost it was illegal it was actually it it's no longer the case but there was a point where it was illegal for a company to brawny people and you can even claim to actually a decade ago maybe but it was illegal to receive a bribe so there's that that was built into the approaches of captains immensely oh Lord but yeah I think that personality thing is another thing which there's a way around it it's not great way that to try and make the perfect is misguided personality which is why fat cat is the one bad corporate misbehavior that becomes the story because it's the this is made of personality it's that kind of cartoon approach yeah Jackson I worked with Alice on the drones project to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which is as she said a non-profit so it's something of an ivory tower it's a very fortunate position to be in private I bucks all trends in print by making money and I'm not entirely sure how xro is funded that you're clearly funded well enough to be able to keep doing what you're doing as well as you do first question is is it routine investigative journalism destined to end up in places like the bureau Private Eye and xro and not on the pages of national papers and so forth and second question is and it sort of touched upon this when she was talking about using new techniques basically the old techniques but a bit more swish I mean they make they make the old techniques easier and do you think these are then going to mean that we can have people working as freelancers or something on investigative stories whereas before it would take you months and you'd have to find some way of making the money now it takes much less time and you don't have to support yourself throughout and other means in order to get these great investigations out crisply new techniques make old techniques easier no I think that's true do you think that is that going to enable people to do investigations and is that going to mean we're gonna see a grand golden age of investigative journalism once again question yes so the first question was it's amazing to me you're going to face Lee give up investor journalism have they already done the same well they haven't entirely I think is easy to exaggerate the position there isn't a great deal of it goes on but it clearly does go on you have to remember that the phone hacking scandal which was a scandal in our own industry was actually I'm glad to say exposed by Erin history and I was principally The Guardian leading the charge on on that one I think things are changing in the sense that new organizations are springing up and I'm very conscious in talking to editors of papers or programs that there conscious of us on what we can do and these as I suppose they have increasingly increasing difficulties over their resource they're seeing someone like us as as a partial solution to that problem so all those of course we are paid by them but rather than have a you know a small army of invested journalists working away and possibly hopelessly in the middle of a quarter of a newsroom they can sort of use us as when we come up with stuff I mean sometimes that commissioners to do stuff but broadly we'll just work on investigations that we decide we want to do and we're going to publish them anyway if we find a story whether or not we find a partner to do it with but invariably we you know very often we do find someone to do it with and they'll pay us whether that necessarily reflects the true cost of if they had done it themselves is probably another question so I think I think that balance is changing I don't think the guard is going to stop doing Snowden's stuff I hope they don't and but nonetheless we're gonna carry on doing our VIP pfl stuff and our tax civils attacks in non-taxable servants and the things we've got in the pipeline the landscape is changing so I find it slightly disappointing amongst the voluntary sector so to speak that when you look at people setting up independent blogs and things like that generally speaking they just redirect you back to a newspaper story but you know that people who actually say I've got these company documents and they show why is is pretty minimal you find other outside bodies the bureau investor news journalism doing that and also WikiLeaks and mostly they just destroyed themselves as vote in the end but you didn't make me in fact the GMB I saw recently did a great story for the mirror where they did all the research there's a story on the front page of the mirror about how it's Charles gets housing benefit because it's his East Asia they know there's a freedom information-based story let the authority by local authority are every local authority is your main recipient of housing benefit because if you're unemployed the benefit doesn't go see you it goes literally directly and they found well Prince Charles with crannis today and the Duchy of Lancaster which the GMB that did the research mr. Greg Miller story with the gym we did the research for them I mean escape there's room for it is a hunger for it the papers will cover for it but but but they weren't put enough resource into XY wory ignored become like a niche is like British engineering is now a niche luxury industry so now we're in these private eyes like the old cranky one we're like a Brompton by sort of niche luxury because when they do go to something they go punch but it's that that's what was worrying me is it should happen but it's not happening we're all becoming a bit luxury but one of the things that we're doing at Expo is very much working with you with mainstream media so if an including red top tabloids even and you're right if they if they decide to go for a story they'll go for it and it will have real real impact so so in a sense those stories that we're doing with them they just wouldn't have happened you know take another question and we yet we are philanthropic fund we are dependent on the generosity of our funders but we've also explored other funding funding methods so last year we launched a crowdfunding appeal and week has the exact numbers with race about 20,000 pounds through a crowdfunding appeal that's for a specific project and you can see some kind of future or a certain type of project obviously you're not going to have any kind of element of surprise if you're telling the world first help us fund this so it's very very specific type of projects that you can sort of harness the power of a crowd but there is the capability to do that I found myself wandering looking at the Guardian with all Snowden stuff how many people in Europe and so on would happily you know help to funds that work is this a missed opportunity really the other the other funding everything that we've explored is grant funding again for specific projects but for those sort of day-to-day work because you know that the stories that you're still developing we are not willing to publish or tell the world about yet it's very hard to see what our funding was there are really apart from the sort of traditional work with a work with the mainstream media organizing I think yeah okay yeah we're equipping ourselves I just sorry I couldn't take some more floor crashes there anybody this absolutely bursting bursting okay just a quick one as you say we should know right for free so how cool independent journalists who have a good story can get paid to take a story out there it's not a general thing I was just thinking about the perils of investigative journalism I'm thinking about the McAlpine thing that attached to the bureau and how you deal with that and incidentally how you decide when a story isn't standing up slightly separate issue and you drop it obviously there's investment factors involved in that I wanted to also ask Solomon a couple of quick things maybe we'll have to leave it about the use of I'm so sorry to leave a trust and that's all the details just keep keep on putting out but most of us the most the most intensive research authorities I mean from my support when I started outside work with this book desert helped me to learn how to do things and each said to me did everything you write is defamatory or don't bother no no employee so make sure that you have the defense of true and defend truth is only a defense against defamation it's not absolutely deserted I understand but at least it's in the tent so just make sure it's true that's how you do it that's journalistic technique but that's you know that's it of course there's an investment they need these and that's frustrating but you know that's the fundamental inspiring approach to rescue journalism yeah I'm just going back to the funding question I think that um the kind of business model for journalism has if not totally broken it's breaking down and I don't think there is a silver bullet solution to this I think what we're looking for is lots of different funding models that will sustain lots of different kinds of things now the philanthropic lis funded route with the ProPublica adopted of course it has its strengths as a way of getting things moving they've study done some very good work but it does raise difficulties as well the story of X Row is different in that it set out to be a commercial operation I was actually approached initially to work on a project team that was going to put together a business plan and then go and seek investment so in many ways the whole approach was just like any other business it's just that we were going to be doing investigative journalism which appeal unusual and we went out and found an investor in order as it were get going to you know get get some journalism moving and get some stories published and then it's for us to generate revenues that in the long run make the thing self sustainable final message for these people interested in the future

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