Book aims to pin down economic return on investigative reporting

Editor’s Note: This article first ran on April 11, 2017 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. By Anya Schiffrin At a time when U.S. journalism is being hit by the collapse of advertising revenue, ongoing uncertainty about business models, and a continual assault from the alt-right and the White House, a new book explains why…

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Paper makes audacious decision to highlight silent epidemic

By Susannah Nesmith, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on Dec. 2, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. The Palm Beach Post made the bold decision to profile all 216 people who died of an opioid overdose in its coverage area last year, risking the wrath of victims’ families, some of whom were horrified…

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The Center for Investigative Reporting recalibrates to cover Trump

By Amy Pyle Editor’s Note: This article first ran on Nov. 21, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. I was jolted awake, or rather I was jolted awake, by the Northridge Earthquake on January 17, 1994. I drove bleary-eyed down the 210 freeway to the 118, careening off expansion joints that had become steps. Less than…

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Q&A: Ted Conover on mastering the art of immersion journalism

By Kevin Deutsch Editor’s Note: This article first ran on Nov. 16, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. During a career that’s spanned three and a half decades, Ted Conover has guarded hardened criminals in Sing Sing, snuck across the US border with Mexican immigrants, inspected poultry as a USDA employee, and roamed the…

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Sinking a bold foray into watchdog journalism in Japan

By Martin Fackler Editor’s Note: This article first ran on October 25, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. It seemed like compelling journalism: a major investigative story published by The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second largest daily newspaper, about workers fleeing the Fukushima nuclear plant against orders. It was the work of a special investigative section that had…

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With two promotions, Chicago Sun-Times returns to its watchdog roots

By Jackie Spinner, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on October 6, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. After five mystifying (and let’s be honest, pretty wretched) years under the ownership of wannabe journalism mogul and investor Michael Ferro, the city’s No. 2 newspaper signaled a fresh start and a new direction late…

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Six lessons from a five-year FOIA battle

By Philip Eil, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on September 28, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. I filed my first Freedom of Information Act request on February 1, 2012. I was 26 years old, and chasing a story about my father’s med-school classmate, Dr. Paul Volkman, who had been convicted of a…

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Q&A: Chris Davis’s plan to beef up Gannett’s investigative reporting

By Carlett Spike, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on September 6, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. When Gannett announced in July that investigative-reporting legend Chris Davis would be joining its team, it was a shock to the industry. In recent years, Gannett had claimed an interest in investing in ambitious reporting…

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Will a new law really make Illinois’ FOIA stronger? Journalists there aren’t so sure

By Jackie Spinner, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on August 16, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. This summer, the Illinois Legislature stiffened the penalties that can be imposed on public bodies that refuse to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act. HB 4715, part of a two-bill package known as “Molly’s…

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Des Moines Register gets a win in an uphill fight for transparency

By Deron Lee, CJR Editor’s Note: This article first ran on August 15, 2016 on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. Not long after taking over as editor of the Des Moines Register in 2014, Amalie Nash told CJR that she was determined to uphold the paper’s “longstanding tradition of standing up for public records.” So now, as she prepares…

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