Shining a light on an untold crisis
A superb piece of storytelling — from field reporting by Will Fitzgibbon and Eleanor Bell — to development and execution by Chris Zubak-Skees on Kimberley Porteous’ digital team — is having great impact on our sites and across our partners and the industry.
“Fatal Extraction” the catchily named and compelling story of the troubling legacy of Australian, not Chinese, mining investment in several African countries, looks like it will be our most-read story from the Center and ICIJ team this year. It also marks an important step in our innovation on storytelling methods and bringing together the capabilities of the ICIJ network and Public Integrity. There are some important lessons in it for ways to tell longer stories: long-form journalism by other means. More pieces in the series here.
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A lot comes together in this piece.
Will was a Graeme Wood fellow, supported by our former board member and Australian activist investor.
Eleanor is an award-winning video journalist and this is a good example of our video strategy of focusing on set pieces which bring stories to life and allow the voices of the characters to tell their own stories in a way we know people like to consume.
Kimberley, our chief digital officer, has personally steered the entire project through production, categorizing it as our first “6” in the Richter-like scale she has coined for projects of high complexity. Hamish Boland-Rudder delivered the ICIJ package online, intern Suzy Gashi did heavy-lifting on graphics and video. Cecile Schillis-Gallego, shortly to move to Paris for the ICIJ, did the data work and editor Martha Hamilton was also the story editor. It couldn’t have happened without fact checking leader Peter Smith and our lawyer Mike Rothberg.
The ICIJ, led by Gerard Ryle, has 13 partners in Africa publishing the story which stands to be a great way to break in to that market and expand our engagement with journalists and audiences there.
Speed-dating donors and Uber-loving candidates
Money and politics has always been and will remain at the heart of the Center. Much of the political team stayed into the small hours overnight on July 15 to deliver a package on the presidential candidates’ first disclosures. It had a catchy intro for sure with “It’s speed dating season for presidential campaign contributors” but the essence of course is in the data and analysis delivered by all those on the byline on that story, Carrie Levine, Michael Beckel, Ben Wieder, Dave Levinthal and Alexander Cohen.
Here is a sample of the data which pretty obviously sets out the stall behind Hillary Clinton and the rest.
This is the meat and drink of the Center: timely, fast and beautifully illustrated in a competitive field.
On the subject of nice intros, Dave Levinthal had a cute one today on Jeb Bush and his enthusiasm for Uber, something he shares with Rand Paul: “Air Force One is Jeb Bush’s dream ride. In the meantime, he’s content bolstering his tech cred — and needling Democratic presidential rival and “sharing economy” skeptic Hillary Clinton — by publicly embracing Uber.”
Gordon Witkin also calls out Alexander Cohen and Jeff Smith for their analysis of how members of a key group in Senate which arbitrates on defense spending just happen to be in the pocket of defense companies.
Also from the National Security beat, Doug Birch used the Vienna byline on his way to another story to put us on point for an analysis of the Iran nuclear deal.
I’m also a little late in mentioning the clever States piece by Liz Essley Whyte, who joined us on staff this week after a fellowship, on the marijuana promoters backing law changes to help their own industry, learning fast.
What we’re reading
National Security editor Jeff Smith and I were talking this week about the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in the Bosnian war when he and I were in somewhat different places for previous employers. I thought this take in Foreign Policy was good on the consequences and our Advisory Council member and my former CNN colleague Christiane Amanpour remembered it here.