A Site You Should “Investigate”

November 27, 2012 01:30

By Mike Cavender, Executive Director
With a decline these days in solid, investigative reporting, it’s good to see there’s one place on the web which specializes in featuring some great investigative projects from top news organizations around the world.  And it’s one worth watching. 
It’s a YouTube channel launched by the Center for Investigative Reporting called the I Files. Check it out here: www.youtube.com/ifiles.  It features long-form contributions from ABC News, the New York Times, the BBC and many others, as well as videos from freelance journalists and independent filmmakers.  Launched in August, it’s developed a growing following in a few short months.
The project was seeded with an $800,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.  At the time of its launch, Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight, said, “We’re especially looking forward to seeing local news operations use this platform to engage in issues that matter for their communities.”
There haven’t been a lot of local contributions, so far, but that could reflect a lack of awareness.  But it’s using major social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Pintrest to connect with viewers and the channel has garnered some 4,200 subscribers so far.  
But there’s some really good work showcased here. The channel is subdivided by topics and it’s easy to navigate to find stories involving such areas as crime and society, the environment, the military and politics. “Her War” is a compelling story by independent producer Mimi Chakarova about a growing number of female veterans who survive on LA’s Skid Row.  And “Voices from Afghanistan” is a very well produced NPR submission telling the stories of the men of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Mountain Division are engaged in some of the most difficult fighting of the war there—and how they’ve earned 50 Purple Hearts doing so.
This is good stuff—not only as a showcase for some great work, but as a platform from which any reporter, producer or videographer can take away ideas and techniques they may be able to use in their own work.  
Maness said, “The I Files is poised to make investigative reporting more web-centric, vibrant and social, in a way we hope attracts more viewers and interest for the enterprise journalism communities depend on.”
And for aspiring investigative journalists, I Files is sponsoring the “I Files Future Award.”
It’s an opportunity for students to submit their own investigative projects to compete for a $2,500 prize and the chance to have their video showcased on I Files.  Details on the competition, which closes on January 4, 2013, can be found at: www.cironline.org/futuresaward