Monday, April 05, 2010

AP creates investigative units

AP says it's creating four regional investigative units so reporters throughout the wire service who latch on to a good story and need the extra fire power can call the cavalry.

Each unit will have specialists in data analysis, public records discovery and multimedia presentation, according to the memo by AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Oreskes that was run by Editor & Publisher.

Good for them. I hope it works out.

The AP has tried this in fits and starts dating back 20+ years when Bill Ahearn was executive editor. Back in the early 1990s it hired the likes of Bill Dedman to create a computer assisted reporting unit and take the gospel to the bureaus. For many reasons (including some territorialism by the bureaus), things limped along, produced a few good projects, limped again, about fell apart, were revived, etc. Frank Bass has been one of the mainstays of the efforts.

(I first met Bill at an IRE conference in the late 1980s and was happy to see him come on board and work with him at AP.)

Maybe this time, which by my count is the third or fourth iteration of this idea, it will take deep root. Nothing but good can come from that. The trick will be making sure the bureau folks retain some ownership of the projects and don't get big-footed as happened with some stories after AP started its regional reporter system.

(And noting the shout-out Oreskes gives to my former colleague Jim Davenport for his work in tracking the questionable use of state planes by "Luv Guv" Mark Sanford.)

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At 4/6/10, 9:49 AM, Anonymous said...

It is funny that they only just decided to investigage their stories. What have they being doing over the past years? This is probably part of the problelm with journalism today. How do you report a factual stories when everthing these days is about getting the scoop and before everyone? If this incentive failed in the past, it would likely fail again. At least AP is trying. We can't say the same for the rest of the media out there. I wonder if getting bloggers involved locally might help. We could also blame advertising revenue for the decline in good journalism. Yes, you have to lay the blame!


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