The genre of blog investigative reporting

When blogs do real investigative journalism, there’s a distinct benefit to the form.
Newspaper and magazine investigative pieces tend to be really long. Journalists are assigned to cover an issue in-depth for months, and then fill pages with detailed name, date, and fact-filled paragraphs At the risk of seeming shallow, I have a hard time getting throught them.
Ordinary stories tend to be short, written by journalists who have cursory familarity with the issue and tight deadlines, drawing on press releases, standard stories, and conventional wisdom. There are a some strong “beat” reporters who are an exception to this rule. Unless you’re strongly interested in the topic to begin with, they are harder to find, since their stories “look” like every other story.
The blog form is different. When blogs are doing real investigative reporting and analysis, they’ll cover a topic in small bites, day after day. A reader can learn the players and the vocabulary, gradually, and gain an understanding of the topic over time.
Contra the “A-list” stereotype, it’s easy to find these people. A quick Google or Technorati search will find bloggers who write about a topic. It’s easy to zoom in on people who sound cogent. Then follow their blogroll and the people they link to. Put a couple in an RSS reader. And soak up domain knowledge.

One thought on “The genre of blog investigative reporting”

  1. I agree – I think one of the key differences is that bloggers tend to learn transparently — they share what they are learning on a frequent basis. Established media on the other hand, will gather lots of information before presenting it. Some of that is probably good, because the power to smear someone with innuendo is so great.
    Over time I wonder if we’ll see some of the more widely read blogs being less transparent about investigations they’re working on, or media outlets being more transparent about their investigations? I can imagine newspapers doing the latter, but not television.

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