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Democracy: The Economics of Investigative Journalism
     

Democracy: The Economics of Investigative Journalism

by James T. Hamilton
 

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In democratic societies, investigative journalism holds government and private institutions accountable to the public. From firings and resignations to changes in budgets and laws, the impact of this reporting can be significant—but so too are the costs. As newspapers confront shrinking subscriptions and advertising revenue, who is footing the bill for

Overview

In democratic societies, investigative journalism holds government and private institutions accountable to the public. From firings and resignations to changes in budgets and laws, the impact of this reporting can be significant—but so too are the costs. As newspapers confront shrinking subscriptions and advertising revenue, who is footing the bill for journalists to carry out their essential work? Democracy’s Detectives puts investigative journalism under a magnifying glass to clarify the challenges and opportunities facing news organizations today. Drawing on a painstakingly assembled data set of thousands of investigations by U.S. journalists, James T. Hamilton deploys economic theories of markets and incentives to reach conclusions about the types of investigative stories that get prioritized and funded.

Hamilton chronicles a remarkable record of investigative journalism’s real-world impact, showing how a single dollar invested in a story can generate hundreds of dollars in social benefits. An in-depth case study of Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Pat Stith of The News and Observer in Raleigh, NC, who pursued over 150 investigations that led to the passage of dozens of state laws, illustrates the wide-ranging impact one intrepid journalist can have. Important stories are going untold as news outlets increasingly shy away from the expense of watchdog reporting, Hamilton warns, but technology may hold an answer. Computational journalism—making novel use of digital records and data-mining algorithms—promises to lower the costs of discovering stories and increase demand among readers.

Editorial Reviews

Walter V. Robinson
In riveting detail, Hamilton meticulously examines the storied history of investigative journalism in America, chronicles its current malaise, and makes a convincing case that pouring resources into gumshoe reporting makes economic sense for sclerotic news organizations. Why? Because readers hunger for more of it and are willing to pay to read it.
Michael Schudson
This is an outstanding book, the product of careful thinking, of remarkable and painstaking gathering of data on investigative reporting—past and present—that no one in academia or in journalism has ever undertaken before. It is a moving, evidence-based affirmation of the value of journalism to democracy.
Huffington Post - Glenn C. Altschuler
Provides an extraordinarily precise and painstaking examination of the state of investigative journalism in the United States. Using a wide array of statistical measures and a case study of Pat Stith, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The News and Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, Hamilton demonstrates that investigative reporting (involving original work about important issues that someone wants to keep secret) costing thousands of dollars can produce millions of dollars in benefits to society. And Hamilton issues an urgent warning that this essential public service is underprovided in the market. His book should command the attention of every citizen who is concerned about the implications for our democracy when sunlight, which is the best disinfectant against corruption and incompetence, is obscured and blocked.
Marginal Revolution - Tyler Cowen
A highly original look at exactly what the subtitle promises…Has this topic ever been more important than this year?
Poynter - Rick Edmonds
Bracing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674545502
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/10/2016
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
206,107
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

James T. Hamilton is Hearst Professor of Communication at Stanford University.

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