Is there room for investigative journalism in the new media landscape?
JEFF JARVIS, author of Gutenberg the Geek (Amazon Publishing), Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live (Simon & Schuster, 2011) and What Would Google Do? (HarperCollins 2009), blogs about media and news at Buzzmachine.com. He is associate professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.
He is consulting editor and a partner at Daylife, a news startup. He consults for media companies and is a public speaker. Until 2005, he was president and creative director of Advance.net, the online arm of Advance Publications. Prior to that, Jarvis was creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly; Sunday editor and associate publisher of the New York Daily News; TV critic for TV Guide and People; a columnist on the San Francisco Examiner; assistant city editor and reporter for the Chicago Tribune; reporter for Chicago Today.
Question: Is there room for investigative journalism in the new media landscape?
Jeff Jarvis: I think if we actually budgeted how much resource in the newspaper industry goes to investigative journalism, and did 10 years ago, we’d find it’s not much and maybe it’s declining. I would argue that in fact newspapers should invest more in investigative journalism because it is uniquely valuable.
The problem with newspapers and TV stations is that they give too much resource and time to commodity news we already know, thanks to the internet. And so there’s no reason for newspapers across the country to all have their own movie critics or golf columnists or whatever. Get rid of them and get investigative journalists on and break stories--that’s the way we used to make this business work.
I think it’s also true that we can do investigative journalism in a collaboration with the public. The News Press in Florida got a Freedom of Information Act request for some botched hurricane federal relief, pre-Katrina, huge amounts of data; and they realized that their audience really knew what happened in their neighborhood. So they put up a search box and said put in your address, hit search and find out what the Feds said happened on your block, and then you tell us what you know.
In 48 hours there were 60,000 searches. They got tons of stories out of this. They also got a cadre of experts, it being Florida they all have white hair like me, but experts who were willing to constantly help the paper, an architect, an engineer, an accountant.
This idea of collaboration with the public, I think allows us to look at investigative journalism in new ways. Sometimes it’s about a reporter with contacts, shoe leather that lives forever. It’s also about seeing data as news and the fact that the public knows more than we do and if we can find ways to mobilize them and to draw what they know out of them that will yield more truth.
I think it’s also true that we have more of an ethic of transparency online and that we want to try to bring that ethic of transparency to government and business and journalism itself.
Recorded on: April 30, 2008
Toss the critics overboard and hire more investigative reporters, Jarvis says.
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
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