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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

CIR announces (and Knight funds) a curated YouTube channel for investigative video reporting

The Center for Investigative Reporting project aims to grow audiences and revenue by assembling the work of many different news organizations, large and small.

The Center for Investigative Reporting announced today that it’s launching a YouTube channel to showcase investigative reporting — from longstanding institutions like NPR and The New York Times, from nonprofit outlets like the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and even from independent filmmakers from around the globe — all in one common home.

Rather than making the audience search for great video investigative work across dozens of sites, the new channel will bring it all together in one place, and on the platform — YouTube — where most video viewing gets done.

The Knight Foundation is chipping in $800,000 for CIR to roll out the channel, which is being launched in partnership with the Investigative News Network, an association of dozens of news nonprofits. CIR director Robert Rosenthal tells me it’s an “extensive experiment” to distribute content in a way that mirrors the way people actually seek it.

He’s also hoping that the channel — set to launch in July — will generate ad revenue to support organizations that produce public interest journalism. (It’s no “panacea for sustainability,” he says, but every little bit helps.) He suspects that pushing content “in the most aggressive way across as many platforms as possible” is key to growing audiences for news organizations — that’s already part of CIR’s strategy, which includes platforms like coloring books and puppets.

“The other potential here is for independent filmmakers, for people who really have a hard time getting their work seen,” Rosenthal said. Individual submissions will be vetted through an editorial process that existing media institutions will be able to bypass, he says.

Other familiar names that have already signed on as contributors include ABC News, the Center for Public Integrity, and the American University Investigative Workshop. CIR will be acting as a curator of investigative news, but ultimately the idea is to explore better ways to give people what they want.

“What we’re all seeing is the challenge of getting what we would call high-quality, credible storytelling to various audiences in the way they want,” Rosenthal said. “Audiences are so segmented and fractioned — not only by how they consume [information] but by demographics, by age, by everything. We believe the more varied distribution model serves the audience in the way it wants to get information.”

Image by Mike Licht used under a Creative Commons license.

                                   
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  • Guest

    Why would anyone need $800,000 to start a Youtube channel?