As a followup to “Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists” (UNESCO 2009), UNESCO will publish an online casebook of 20-25 previously published investigative stories for use as teaching material. I’m the editor in chief on the project, and we want to see your stories. Please read the following guidelines BEFORE you submit anything:
Definition of “investigation”: For purposes of this handbook, “investigation” means that the story results from the reporter’s own work, and deals with a subject that is either overlooked or deliberately hidden from public view. The subject must be of wide public interest, meaning that it must be both exemplary and have an affect on peoples’ lives. That affect may be positive or negative. Stories that point to solutions to the problems they raise will get particular attention.
Quality: If it is not one of the best stories you have ever written or read, do not send it to us, period. (A good test: Your life and career would be justified by this story if you were hit by a bus tomorrow.) This material is going to be used to train students and professionals, and it has to set a high standard.
You may nominate stories you did not write yourself. We will be grateful if people can suggest work by colleagues in their countries who for one reason or another can’t submit themselves (we are thinking of the late Anna Politskovaya, for example: we haven't read all her work, and we'd be grateful to hear what's the most powerful piece she ever wrote that's available in English?). Organisations that fund investigations, like OSI, SCOOP and ARIJ, can submit the best work they’ve funded.
Length: Between 2000 and 5000 words. We can go longer in some cases, but the work must be truly exceptional.
Format: Send soft copies only, in .rtf or .doc formats (preferred). If you only have a .pdf, OK, but it has to be clearly legible (do not abuse us on this, OK? We’ll have a lot of reading to do). Put the name of at least one author in the name of the file (as in “hunter_babydoe.doc”). IMPORTANT: Make our job simpler, and include the name, email and telephone of the principal contact person for the story on the first page or a note attached to the .pdf file. Don’t make us chase you down; we can’t and won’t.
Language: English. We would like to do more languages, but we just don’t have the capacity or budget for translations. We can and will edit to improve your translation, but please don’t just run it through Babelfish and send it to us; have someone who knows both languages review first. Authors involved in multi-language stories like the Trafigura investigation are invited to contact us to work out a modus operandi. Finally, if the original is in one of the UNESCO languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian) please send it along too; it may be useful for further editions.
Subject: Any matter worth investigating -- health, environment, politics, crime and justice, work and business, human rights, women’s rights, sports, etc. The story must have been published in the period 2005-2010.
Style: Excellence of writing is a must for this casebook. Specific styles may range from news-style to feature style. Allow us to repeat: We want stories that not only provide important information, but are great to read. In a parallel genre, our benchmark is Tom Wolfe’s anthology, “The New Journalism.”
Documentation: The story must have been perfectly verified and documented prior to publication. If there have been any challenges to the story, you have to detail them in your submission letter.
Supporting materials: Authors of selected stories will be asked to provide material for a teaching note to accompany their work, including how they found the story, how they researched and wrote it, and how they promoted and defended their work. Do not bother to put this material together until you are advised of whether your piece has been selected.
Honorarium: An honorarium of $US 200 will be paid for every story selected. That will cover use of the story and the supporting materials, and you will grant UNESCO the right to publish and distribute the story. BTW, the editors on this job are not getting royalities, and no one will get more than all the authors combined.
How to submit: send the soft copy and a cover letter to [log in to unmask]
Deadline: Tight. You have until March 15. So please, tell your colleagues about this and let’s move!
Best to all,
Mark Lee Hunter
Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow, INSEAD
Docteur en Sciences de l'Information de l'Université de Paris 2
Portable: (+33) 6 27 81 00 87
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