APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR EVIDENCE |
Investigative journalism is vital for a healthy democracy.
It acts as a watchdog, holding those in positions of authority
to account by exposing wrongdoing, standing up for the public
interest and, where appropriate, campaigning for reform. Its contribution
to democracy is just as valuable at local as at national level:
to hold democratically elected bodies to account, to ensure their
work is visible to the people whom they represent, and to keep
people informed about what is happening in institutions such as
their local schools, hospitals or businesses.
But these are difficult times for investigative journalism.
The phone hacking scandal has already led to the closure of Britain's
best selling tabloid newspaper as well as the resignation of former
newspaper editors and senior members of the Metropolitan Police
force. This, combined with the Information Commissioner's report
of five years ago, has exposed apparently widespread use of unlawful
methods to gather and intercept information, and will be investigated
in full by the relevant judge-led and Parliamentary inquiries.
Even before the current scandal started to unfold,
the economic climate was threatening original journalism: declining
newspaper readership, fragmenting TV audiences and the migration
of print advertising to online were exacerbated by the impact
of the worst economic recession since the war. As a result, local
newspapers have been forced to close and many journalists lost
their jobs, long before the closure of the News of the World.
While the events of the last few weeks clearly reflect
very badly on some areas of the British press, they are also a
reminder of the importance of investigative journalism. Revelations
about the phone hacking scandal itself, about abuse in some care
homes, about match-fixing in test cricket have been uncovered
by investigative journalism.
This raises urgent questions about whether and how,
in a changing media landscape, it may be possible to harness the
power of new technologies to complement traditional media in ensuring
a healthy journalistic culture. Information about public authorities
and bodies that provide a service to the public is increasingly
available online and to anyone who wishes to access it via a Freedom
of Information Act request. This, together with the rise of social
media such as twitter, YouTube and Facebook and new online opportunities
in journalism, means that now is an appropriate time to consider
what role "citizen journalism", participatory journalism
and other new approaches or models might be able to play in the
future of investigative journalism.
Given the rapid economic and technological changes
and the extent to which investigative journalism has been thrown
into the spotlight in recent weeks, the House of Lords Communications
Committee welcomes your views on the parameters for the future
of journalism in a difficult media environment. In particular,
this inquiry will examine the future for investigative journalism
in a world where traditional print and broadcast business models
are under threat and a great deal of news and information is readily
available for free online. It will also investigate ideas for
different organisational or business models which might promote
or advance the future of investigative journalism. This builds
on the work of our predecessor Committee's report into the ownership
of the news which was published in June 2008 and seeks to complement
the current Parliamentary and Judge-led inquiries into phone hacking,
privacy and injunctions. We welcome your views on the following
The changing media landscape
Has the way in which people consume news changed
in recent years? What are the recent trends in newspaper circulation
figures and how do these compare with figures for television and
radio news, and accessing news content online?
What effect, if any, will devices such as ipads and
e-readers have on the ways in which people consume news and access
What is the role of social media in displacing or
complementing traditional news outlets?
Are there any existing funding, business or organisational
models from other sectors or overseas which could successfully
be used in order to safeguard the future of investigative journalism?
The role of investigative journalism
What role does investigative journalism playboth
at a national and local levelin safeguarding democracy
and in the accountability of those in positions of power or public
How can the merits of a journalist's story be assessed?
How is the public interest defined and determined?
What contribution is citizen and participatory journalism
making to original journalism and what is its impact on the ways
in which people access news and information?
Does the availability of information under the FOI
Act and the increased onus on public bodies to make information
available online have an impact on the role of investigative journalism?
Paying for investigative journalism
To what extent are readers, listeners and viewers
prepared to pay for the skills of serious reporting?
What are the new business models for paying for investigative
journalism which new media will make possible?
How successful are pay-walls as a model for supporting
investigative journalism? Are they likely to become a successful
model for generating new income streams in future?
What other funding models (such as pay-per-use access
and micropayments) are likely to emerge to safeguard the future
of investigative journalism?
How safe and secure are the funding models for journalism
in the print media and on commercial TV and radio?
Are there any changes needed in the regulation of
broadcast journalism or digital or print media to ensure they
fulfil a useful journalistic function?
How might the continuing commercial and financial
viability of investigative journalism be secured on different
media platforms in the future?
Do we need regulatory or other policy incentives
to ensure that these initiatives succeed?
22 July 2011