A rather familiar voice on the radio at 7.10 this morning.
Nick Davies – investigative journalist, author of Flat Earth News and co-founder of the recently announced The Investigations Fund – was talking to Evan Davis about the Guardian exclusive that’s splashed across most of the other (non-News International) papers today.
Davies was detailing his story which alleges among other things:
• News of the World bugging led to £700,000 payout to PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
• Sun editor Rebekah Wade and Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson – both ex-NoW editors – involved
• News International chairman Les Hinton told MPs reporter jailed for phone-hacking was one-off case
Many of those cited have launched vigorous defences, not least Andy Coulson who is David Cameron’s spin meister.
So what does this tale tell us?
At once it shows that investigative journalism is alive and well (The Guardian method) and also in a state of crisis (the alleged News of the World method).
But it also tells us that newspapers are incredibly proprietorial about their exclusives.
Sure, the Davies investigation emerged last night and led Channel 4 News among others, but by then it was firmly a Guardian story. The paper and its journalists had done the leg work so why shouldn’t they reap the benefits?
And for three hours this morning, the Today Programme was (rightly) slapping the back of a rival news organisation.
But as I’ve argued before, the need for the a scoop – built into the media DNA – is at odds with collaborative investigations. Or at least it can be. This is no value judgement, just a fact of newspaper life.
In short that’s one of the biggest challenges for initiatives like The Investigations Fund and Help Me Investigate.
Good luck to both.