In a sea of news aggregators, CIR creates hard-hitting work

Robert Rosenthal is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and Executive Director of CIR — his latest blog post can be found here:  http://centerforinvestigativereporting.org/blogs

ROBERT ROSENTHALUPDATE | DECEMBER 12, 2011

In a sea of news aggregators, CIR creates hard-hitting work

In an age of aggregators, the Center for Investigative Reporting is a multimedia content creator. We invest our resources in covering underreported stories that traditional media can no longer afford to pursue.

While newspapers have continued to shrink, CIR’s staff has more than quadrupled since 2008, from seven to 32 people. Our highly skilled journalists have expertise that is increasingly rare in budget-strapped newsrooms. They cultivate deep sources, find hidden documents, make sense of complicated issues and develop this information into compelling stories delivered to the outlets you rely on for news.

Our data and digital teams plumb this research and create sophisticated data visualizations, interactive maps and tools that help you understand issues from the macro to the micro level. Our radio, video and digital producers work with our reporters to create engaging documentaries, web videos and even animations that demystify complex topics. Our distribution staff places the work and promotes it across hundreds of outlets. Our community engagement and social media team then works to actively engage the public and make sure our reporting gets to those most affected by it.

In today’s media landscape, much of what passes for “news” is in fact commentary, opinion or even invective. Many news organizations no longer report; they merely repost. CIR is different. We arm the public with thoroughly reported facts and with deep explanations of complex issues from the environment to immigration, government accountability, education, health, campaign finance and more — locally, nationally and internationally.

Rather than covering daily news, CIR reports on the larger systems, power dynamics and forces that shape our world. Our reporting enables people to demand accountability from government, corporations and others in power.

Our California Lost series explores communities that are neglected, disenfranchised, and lacking government services and protections. Recent reports have looked at worker housing conditions in the trailer parks of the Eastern Coachella Valley and environmental pollution in the Southern California town of Maywood. These stories don’t just examine one issue; they look at many of the factors affecting people in these communities and follow them back to the numerous parties responsible, from mobile home park owners to county transportation and land management agencies to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control to a Utah-based soil recycling company that leases land from the Cabazon Band of
Mission Indians.

CIR is committed to “story before glory:” Rather than compete with other news organizations, we bring media partners together to collaborate on big stories. We partnered with NPR for our investigation into intelligence gathering 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. In California, we are leading a collaboration of 12 media outlets to report on a proposed $98 billion high-speed rail system, which would be the most expensive public works project in the state’s history. These partnerships exponentially increase the reporting capacity, audience reach and potential impact of our reporting. Together, we are accomplishing goals that none of us could alone.

Now there’s something to tweet about.

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