It's been a bad few weeks for investigative journalism in the digital age. After Mashable announced it was sacking most its political and global reporters, the Guardian revealed it was closing its investigations team. Today Vice News has sacked most of its UK journalists and key staff left The Daily Telegraph .
The Crisis in Journalism
While the public’s demand for accurate reporting is rising, the traditional providers of news are in dire economic trouble. Publishing has lost $40 billion in advertising in the last four years, and online advertising for news sites has collapsed by 30% in the UK this summer alone.
The crisis in journalism - caused by a catastrophic decline in print and online advertising - continues unabated.
As a result, most journalists are paid less to work harder, and less well. A recent Reuters Institute Study discovered that online journalists produce 186% more stories than those who do know. Nearly 9 out of 10 say they have less time for research. The National Union of Journalists estimate that a British journalist earns on average about £8,000 per year.
Though it's only one solution, Byline plans to make a small contribution to try to reverse this.
Today we announce our crowd funded investigations team
Trust Us and We'll Deliver
In its first year of operation Byline has had some successes, including shortlisting for digital innovation in the British Journalism Awards.
We're covered a dozen court cases from the Andy Coulson Perjury trial in Scotland, the Scientology trial in Belgium, to the Deepcut Inquest into the suspicious death of young woman soldier shot on sentry duty in an army barracks.
We've had front line reportage from Iraq, Jordan, Singapore, Palestine, Greece – including Norman Finklestein raising over $100,000 for a hospital in Gaza on Byline: Alex Andreou’s coverage of the Grexit crisis to Dan Evans and Kit Oates report on the Macedonian border on the refugee crisis.
We've funded ground breaking videos and podcasts from ‘The Haystack’ by Scenes of Reason praised by Edward Snowden
Or Peter Jukes’UNTOLD: Daniel Morgan Murder, sponsored by Squarespace, the backers of the hit US shot ‘Serial’.
Our investigative journalism scoops have included exclusives by Graham Johnson on Rebekah Brooks and phone hacking
Nick Mutch on the Bullingdon Club, Tim Fenton on the Tory Bullying allegations and the battlebus election expenses scandal
Nick Mutch and Jim Cusick’s expose of how four newspaper groups suppressed investigations into culture secretary John Whittingdale (Prime Minister David Cameron told the Guardian he first read of this on Byline).
But this is not good enough
Nothing Between You and the News
Most our journalist crowd funding pitches rely on telling the story in advance, and giving some indication of where the journalism is going. But how do you do that with an investigative story?
How could anyone crowd fund an investigation into the Panama Papers, Phone Hacking, Child Sexual Abuse or other scandals without giving the game away in advance?
Our solution to this is the Byline Investigations Team.
We get dozens of stories sent to us every week which we don't have the time or resources to cover. We have many sources who tip us off about subjects worth investigation. But we cannot reveal them before these stories are stood up.
For a small amount you can help to pay one journalist on a retainer to investigate and report back in due course.
£6000 will pay one journalist for a monthly retainer to report back and publish a couple of stories a month
£12,000 will pay for TWO journalists....
Our current team of journalists on call to investigate stories include Nick Mutch, Graham Johnson, James Doleman, Jonny Jacobsen, Tim Fenton, Dan Evans, Hina Pandya, but this may change depending on the nature of the stories we investigate.
What You Get in Return
Depending on your level of pledge we will credit donors on every unique story we break, provide private confidential reports, unique access to weekly feedback and invitations to the Byline Insiders Club held for monthly one-to-one briefings.
Our reports will be published under the Byline account. Everything else on Byline is published and controlled by individual writers with no prior restraint. Articles by Byline Investigations will be published under the principles of the Editor's Code.
So come on board. Help us prove there is a way out out of the crisis in investigative reporting
We report back to you. You're our proprietors. Investigative journalism for the people, funded by the people.