Recent Articles

INN members big on sharing at NICAR

INN members love to share. You'll be able to learn from quite a few of your fellow INN members at next month's NICAR conference in Atlanta. By our latest count, 33 staffers from INN and our members are scheduled to speak on panels or give hands-on classes at the conference. That number likely will keep growing as more panels are finalized and lightning talks are voted on ahead of the conference March 5-8. Reporters, editors and technologists will be sharing best practices on all kinds of data analysis, mapping, statistics, news app development and design, programming, and newsroom management. Continue Reading →

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INN provides Policy on Editorial Independence for member organizations

The Investigative News Network is providing a new Policy on Editorial Independence for its member newsrooms.

The policy, approved by the INN board of directors during a meeting on January 5, 2015, is intended to set expectations for donors to member organizations and help ensure that they don't try to exert influence over the members' editorial process. While there are many different business models among INN's more than 100 members, most nonprofit newsrooms are funded largely by philanthropic foundations and private membership. Though it is entirely optional, INN suggests its members adopt the policy, post it on their website and provide a copy for each of their funders. Policy on Editorial Independence for INN member organizations. We subscribe to INN’s standards of editorial independence as follows:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. Continue Reading →

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Laura Amico shares lessons learned at Homicide Watch

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe announced the hiring of Laura Amico to join the digital site as news editor for multimedia and data projects. Amico has been the co-founding editor of the Homicide Watch along with her husband, Chris Amico, since 2010. In a farewell post published today in The Crime Report, Laura shares some of the lessons she learned as the co-founder of the data-driven project that focused on violent crimes. In the post, she opens up about the challenges of keeping Homicide Watch true to its mission, focusing on people and not just data, and departing the project for the Boston Globe. Below is an excerpt of the full piece, which you can read here at the Crime Report:

The motto of Homicide Watch is simple: Mark every death. Continue Reading →

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Here’s what The Lens did when a single story attracted 81,000 web visits

Louisiana’s state prison officials were not being forthcoming when acquiring drugs from a hospital, so on August 6 The Lens published this investigative story as part of its series on the state's execution methods. The story alone is impressive. And in terms of web traffic, it went viral. As of Monday, The Lens editor Steve Beatty says the site has had 81,000 unique visitors with an average of almost four minutes spent per visitor on the site. All thanks, in part, to the Huffington Post which picked up the story and directed its large audience to The Lens website. Continue Reading →

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Food imports overwhelm FDA safety net, INN collaborative investigation finds

The rising number of food imports into the United States is overwhelming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is tasked with inspecting much of the seafood, fruits, spices and other food items shipped from abroad, a collaborative investigation by two Investigative News Network members has found. FairWarning's reporting found many concerns with the FDA import inspection system. The FDA today rejects about the same number of shipments of foreign food as it did a decade ago – when imports were less than half the current level. The Food and Environment Reporting Network drilled down more closely on seafood, finding that though the FDA and some other federal agencies inspect a portion of imported seafood, the safety net still doesn't catch all of the potentially diseased or unsafe food. The FairWarning story also was published by some McClatchy newspapers and other INN members, and the FERN story was picked up by Medium. Continue Reading →

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A Nonprofit News Approach to Native Advertising

Native advertising is having its moment of truth in the nonprofit news sector as organizations figure out new ways to be sustainable in the digital age. The practice of disguising advertisements as editorial (journalism) work is becoming a center discussion in newsrooms that see the value of sponsored content as a source of revenue. And two major efforts to follow those discussions inside nonprofit newsrooms are already under way. One of those efforts is going on here at INN. As one of the grantees of the INNovation Fund, Southern California Public Radio is experimenting with native advertising. Our job is to document their process and the internal discussions as they debate how to successfully give corporate sponsors the ability to advertise without compromising the integrity of the organization and its independence. Continue Reading →

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Kickstarter launches category for journalism projects

Kickstarter has launched a new category dedicated to funding journalism projects, the company announced on its blog today. Journalism is now one in a list of 16 categories, each with their own subcategories, including subcategories for journalism projects that are based on audio, photo, print, video and web.  

"To us, that means it’s more important than ever to make sure journalists have the tools and resources to try new things — whether they’re professionals looking for innovative ways of funding and sharing their work, or ordinary folks with a hunger to tell the stories around them," the company said on its blog. Explore the journalism projects here and tell us what you think. Continue Reading →

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News startups are hardly spending money to make money, survey reveals

News startups spent less than 20 percent of their budget on making money to run their business, according to a survey sample of 48 publishers who provided information on their own expenses. News startups spent 55 percent of their total budget on creating editorial. That was more than half of what they spent on sales, revenue development and marketing, according to the survey conducted by media consultant Michele McLellan. If those figures are true and representative of other news startups, it "may spell trouble for longterm sustainability," McLellan writes on her blog. McLellan also cited INN member City Limits as an exception for devoting 45 percent of its budget to revenue development. Continue Reading →

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Who gets media credentials—and who doesn’t?

One in five journalists has had media credentials denied at least once, according to a recently released survey of journalists and news organizations nationwide. The report, “Who Gets a Press Pass? Media Credentialing Practices in the United States,” takes a snapshot of the media’s current ability to access government. In summary, the report makes this acknowledgement: “The journalism market in the United States is more diverse than ever before, with a wide array of independent newsgatherers complementing the work of institutional news organizations.”

The report also acknowledges that this diversification of news has led to some confusion as to who is a journalist and how some organizations define journalism. In the survey, journalists answered questions about their experiences in acquiring media credentials from federal, state, local and private organizations from 2008 and 2013. Continue Reading →

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