Journalism is society’s disinfectant, according to Kevin Davis. Davis describes himself as a former entertainment journalist who found his old job neither entertaining nor newsworthy. “If we are to remain a free people, then we [journalists] must keep power at bay,” he said.
“We do the sort of accountability journalism the commercials aren’t interested in,” Davis said.
Davis is CEO of the US based Investigative News Network : a non profit newsagency which he said was “something like a cross between a trade association and a services company”, supplying news and support to more than one hundred non profit newsrooms. “We want to increase their impact, increase reach and keep the lights on with revenue,” he said. Davis was speaking in Sydney at the #storyology conference, organised by the Walkley Foundation.
The network was established in 2009 when journalists from 27 nonpartisan, nonprofit news organizations gathered at the Pocantico Center in New York to plan the future of investigative journalism. The Pocantico Declaration resulted from that meeting:
We, representatives of nonprofit news organizations, gather at a time when investigative reporting, so crucial to a functioning democracy, is under threat. There is an urgent need to nourish and sustain the emerging investigative journalism ecosystem to better serve the public. The Pocantico Declaration
The Network was funded by philanthropic organisations like the Knight Foundation. It collected and distributed serious news. “We are talking about four to five thousand word stories with sidebars, graphics, documentaries and audio. These are massive packages which might take six months to report.”
Clients now included US national organisations like Propublica or the Center for Public Integrity or the Center for Investigative Journalism or regional outfits running state news like the Texas Tribune. There were also issue driven groups like the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange or the Food and Evironmental Reporting Network. “We look for collective opportunities to help those organisations achieve their missions,” Davis said.
In a world of “atomised news”, long form journalism was still in demand. The research fed podcasts, websites and radio programs. “The medium is less important than the form and function,” he said.
Did Davis miss being an entertainment journalist?
“No,” he said.
“One day, I made the personal decision I didn’t need to be the richest person I knew.