ABC News Online

By Siobhan Heanue

YouTube is considering launching a service dedicated to investigative journalism in response to the decline of in-depth reporting at traditional news outlets.

It is in discussions with a non-profit group based in California that funds investigative reporting and on-sells its reports to news outlets around America.

The Centre for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in Berkeley, California, has had a meeting with the video-sharing website to discuss the possibility of collaboration.

YouTube wants CIR, which is funded by private donations, to curate material for what it plans to call YouTube Investigative.

The CIR said the idea may come to fruition in the future.

Executive director Robert Rosenthal says traditional media organisations are facing budget constraints that compel them to turn to outside sources of news reporting.

"Newsrooms are so small, they're looking for content they can't produce," he said.

He says as newsrooms cut staff and budgets, social media and new models of news gathering, such as CIR, are stepping in.

The Centre has 35 staff, and has had journalists in Afghanistan and Egypt.

It completes about 35 investigative reports a year, and sells them to top-tier American news services including National Public Radio, Frontline and NewsHour on the Public Broadcasting Service, and the Washington Post.

Mr Rosenthal said social media platforms were also jumping into the world of investigative reporting, keen to get involved in an area once dominated by traditional press outlets.

"There's a revolution around information and technology," he said.

CIR is also in discussions with Apple and Google about possible collaborations.

Mr Rosenthal says newsrooms around the US are commissioning journalistic work from CIR.

"We are overwhelmed by the opportunity," he said.

Mr Rosenthal said the backing of a traditional news outlet is no longer needed to engage in investigative reporting.

But he notes that even in the social media era, there are huge barriers to any individuals or freelancers doing investigative reports, especially the threat of legal repercussions.

Siobhan Heanue is an ABC journalist. She is visiting news outlets in the United States as part of a United States Studies Centre-World Press Institute media fellowship.