For all the scaremongering, hand-wringing and hair-pulling that has taken place over the last few years, the state of journalism is in fact alive and well and even aided by the internet revolution.
But anyone at Wednesday’s Frontline event with three writers shortlisted for the Orwell Prize could see that great stories still can and are being told by those willing to dig the story out.
If you couldn’t be with us for this event, you can watch the whole thing here:
Freelancer John Arlidge, who wrote the epic 10,000 word expose ‘Inside the Goldmine‘ for the Sunday Times, based on a full 15 days behind the scenes at Goldman Sachs, revealed the corporate culture of infamous investment bank and recalled the workaholic regime:
Goldman Sachs is really good at what it does; you couldn’t design a money making machine any better. They’re not really of this world…Nobody knows how much holiday they all get because nobody ever takes it. If they do go on holiday, they stay in the shade.
Arlidge’s tale became hot property – due in part to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s ill-judged quote "We’re doing God’s work", so The Sunday Times craftily ensured Arlidge’s story hit the internet to make maximum impact. Within a week of going live it was viewed 1.2 million times, "literally going around the world in a heartbeat," Arlidge said.
"This is the most powerful means of communication there will ever be," he said, adding that if you’ve got a good idea and you develop it well, there’s a very healthy market out there for it.
Guardian social affairs reporter Amelia Gentleman wrote a series of articles about the "extraordinarily unglamourous" realities of social work, poverty, and old age homes in British society.
"Social workers are some of the most hated people in the country, and they’re leaving the profession in droves because they’ve been so vilified by the media," she said in relation to her article ‘Life after Baby P‘.
Gentleman added that despite the further vilification of social workers from anonymous online commenters, web readers can often help to develop the story further.
Here’s what Gentleman told me about the relationship between investigative journalism and the Internet:
Peter Hitchens was not so positive about the prospects for journalism in the digital age. "I’m afraid I’m engaged in the 21st century’s equivalent of hand loom weaving," he said.
The Mail on Sunday writer, who was shortlisted for his ‘What if the Berlin Wall didn’t fall?‘ article among others, said that George Orwell would be dispirited with the crudeness of language used on the web.
Here’s a selection of tweets from the night:
Find out more about the Orwell Prize here.