by Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica
Over the past decade, journalistic innovators and reformers have eagerly awaited a future in which the wisdom of the crowd would identify potential subjects for investigative reporting. That hope was bolstered by some undeniable achievements. Thousands of volunteer software developers created programs like Linux and Firefox, used by millions of people. Volunteer authors created a dynamic, online encyclopedia – Wikipedia – that dwarfs any previous compendium of human knowledge. The “crowd” curates Kickstarter, a new means of steering small-dollar philanthropy to artistic and commercial projects. A plethora of websites bring us movie, product and restaurant reviews written by an army of amateur critics.
But the “hive” has been far less effective at identifying subjects for investigative reporting and the reasons why say a lot about the core challenges of deep-dive journalism.
The most important decision an investigative reporter makes, and the one that has the most effect on the outcome, is where to look. Sometimes the answer is as obvious as the… Read the entire story.