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David Potter: there’s value in investigative journalism

July 17, 2009

OK. Here’s the argument:

  1. News is spread highly effectively by people talking (known in the trade as “word-of-mouth”, or WOM, which – preposterously – can be used as a word, to rhyme with “bomb”).
  2. WOM is accelerated by social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or social bookmarking. Social media creates WOM on steroids.
  3. Consequently, the intrinsic value of news diminishes. Newspapers begin to worry about charging for their content (currently, hardly any charge for their web content – though some are experimenting).
  4. Long-term prognosis for newspapers: unsustainable.

Which is why an announcement today in the UK’s Press Gazette could be very exciting, heralding a new niche for newspaper journalists.

The Potter Foundation, run by Psion founder David Potter, has invested £2m in the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit start-up designed to support investigative, public interest journalism.

In theory, if demand could be created for purely investigative journalism, there could yet be money in them-thar pages. Or screens. Or Kindles. Or whatever device you choose to mention.

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