An investigative journalist must devote his time to research. That is why he should be freed from organizational matters such as software management, editorial communication or finding funds that can (co)finance a story.
It describes the job description of a magazine project manager in detail. According to Coco Gubbels (48), the newly appointed advertising interim editor at De Correspondent, the job is already common in the US and is on the rise in the Netherlands. ‘The magazine project manager coordinates the entire project, but stays away from the magazine and creative process.’
Gubbels hopes to reinforce this form of project management in the coming months at the magazine site De Correspondent. She was asked to do this after former headteacher Maaike Goslinga became deputy headteacher, and teachers want to introduce a more project-based working system while the search for a new head is quiet.
What helps is that, in addition to managerial experience, Gubbels has long done investigative journalism, for the likes of Argos (VPRO), Trouw and HP/DeTijd. She made up stories about housekeeping, Utrecht window prostitution and went undercover with homeless people in Utrecht and The Hague. “It was around the credit crunch, and very little money was spent on investigative journalism. You had to write your stories endlessly, and there was really no budget for it. Now there are four or five funds, and as an investigative journalist, if you have a good idea, you have a fair chance of getting a contribution. And Editorial boards are investing more in research authors and journal partnerships than they have done in international contexts.’
Other source of income
So she was forced to look for another source of income at that time. ‘I started focusing on project based work. I’ve done it at various companies, and now for the first time at a magazine company. That in itself isn’t too weird, but it’s nice that I also understand how journalism works.
Gubbels has been hired by VL Consultants and will be appointed as De Correspondent until the end of the year. In the last two years, he founded the Project Management in Investigative Journalism (PMIJ) branch for VL, anticipating the American example where process management in journalism is fast becoming commonplace. In fact, she is now being approached in the Netherlands as well. As a program producer, he was asked by the Journalism Fund to set up an organization where Dutch journalists could efficiently collaborate on themes.
‘You notice that young journalists in particular see the benefits in collaboration. As the reach and impact is greater, it gives more data and is more secure. This is a good example Housing project of Arena Journalism (a journalistic partnership between 16 European countries), in which journalists from all countries mapped who owns social housing.
Coco Kubals is also a board member of VVOJ.
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