“I think these days impact-driven journalism is a bit like the ballet. There would be few museums, opera houses, symphony orchestras, or dance companies without the support of benefactors, large and small,” lunchtime speaker David Corn told the funders, filmmakers and journalists gathered for our latest Media Impact Focus: Assessing the Impact of Media.
The Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones and MSNBC analyst joined a stellar line up of speakers including Paley Center president Pat Mitchell, funder and Harmony Institute co-founder John Johnson, Girl Rising producer Holly Gordon and JustFilms director Cara Mertes, among many other extraordinary leaders and thinkers. Read a good recap of the day here.
David discussed the impact that independent journalism can make; reminded us that you never do know what you might find when you start digging; and said that having the time and independence to do real investigations is key. Case in point — the now notorious ‘47%’ video that derailed the Romney campaign.
Here’s a sneak peak:
Given the economic pressures that much of the media have come under, it may well be that non-profit reporting, supported by individuals and foundations, is essential, is vital to maintaining investigative journalism overall. And investigative journalism that produces short- and long-term results. Some we see now, some we may not see for years. In some ways, just preserving a culture in which accountability is important. If mainstream media, because of economic pressures, cannot do the type of reporting that we do, that ProPublica does, that Chuck’s group does and other people do, it’s a real loss for society. There’s not accountability. There’s less transparency and politicians, corporate leaders and others feel that they can get away with stuff. Just supporting these institutions and making sure that they exist in a way that their overall mission is recognized and perceived by others as being part of our overarching political and national discourse, I think this has value in and of itself.
In recent years, thanks to our supporters, we’ve been able to invest a lot in reporters and technological infrastructure — that is key. It used to be that every 20 years you needed a new printing press. Nowadays, every 20 minutes you need new code. You really have to be on top of this stuff. The newest forms of social media. Every day there’s another back end issue, and I’m not talking about something anatomical. The amount of resources that you need to be a player now, is high. The great thing about the information revolution is it really knocked down a lot of gatekeeping, and Mother Jones can compete. We compete with The New York Times, with the Washington Post with NBC News. We compete with them in getting stories. Once we get a good story, whether it’s the 47 percent or something else like redefining rape, the merit of the story propels it.