International Reporting in the Age of Cutbacks: IRE Recap

Over a thousand journalists gathered on June 14-17 at the Boston Marriot Copley Place for the 2012 IRE Conference in Boston.

At the Going international: Digging up information from other countries panel, panelists stressed that using basic reporting techniques are important when reporting on international topics. Panelist Gary Marx from The Chicago Tribune said that for his reporting, a combination of different investigative techniques led to a fugitive’s capture. Marx even found one fugitive on Facebook.

Other panelists on the Going international panel included Kathie Klarreich, of the Fund for Investigative Journalism in Haiti, and Azmat Khan, digital producer for Frontline PBS.

Takeaway tips from the conference included:

  • “Language not a barrier for me, but for Haitian journalists because documents are often in English.”  -Kathie Klarreich
  • “To work on an international story, tie it to a local angle.” Azmat Khan, Frontline

Economic costs
A May article from Edward Girardet on Nicholas Kristof’s On the Ground blog lamented in “Lessons from Afghanistan: Let’s Get Back to Real Foreign Reporting”:

“Most news organizations have closed down or severely reduced their overseas operations. Freelance journalists, many young and determined, are struggling to survive. No one is willing to pay for good reporting.”

So what can reporters do? While the panel did not address how editors could cut down on costs for international reporting, Marx mentioned that his investigation was implemented on a smaller budget. One cost-cutting strategy is to start initial reporting in the states before venturing overseas.

While foreign reporting may be difficult to implement, reporters willing to find creative methods to cut down on costs may have the best chance at publishing an international story.

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