The Guardian goes behind the news and explains how The Daily Telegraph got a terabyte of data from a classified computer with two million documents, including copies of expense-claim forms, handwritten comments scrawled in margins and attached sticky notes from 646 members of the parliament (MPs).
As Steven Brook says:
“The Daily Telegraph’s expenses investigation has shaken up the political establishment; sent sales of the paper soaring; and left frustrated rivals asking questions about chequebook journalism.”
The data was offered first to The Sun and to The Times, but they didn’t grasp the value of the disk!
The Daily Telegraph’s revelations boosted circulation by nearly 100,000 copies on the first day, giving the paper a bigger boost than a promotional DVD giveaway.
Since then, the paper has increased its circulation day-by-day.
In April, the Daily Telegraph sold an average of 817,692 copies each day, according to official ABC figures for last month, with the Sunday Telegraph averaging a circulation of 590,970.
The Telegraph Media Group has neither confirmed nor denied whether it paid a price tag stretched from £70,000 to £300,000, although the payment is believed to be at the lower end of this range.
Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian wrote yesterday in The Observer:
“Simply, it’s been a bit of blast, material skilfully excavated, honed and projected: every day a new target and a new range of dodgy MP dealings hit square on. So bully for editor Will Lewis, three cheers for the Barclays’ chequebook and one extra hurrah for Tony Gallagher, the paper’s news supremo…
But there’s also a more profound point here. Could the Telegraph, or any other paper, have scored anything like this impact by using its (very successful) website alone? How much do big headlines on paper still count? You only have to ask the question to see the residual value of presses thundering on.
The paper paid cash for a mountain of raw information on disc. All of that could be put online in an instant, the full murky Monty.
If the information had been released in July, as slyly intended, its sheer critical mass, spread across many newspapers, would have worn out a welcome after two days maximum. The Mirror could have highlighted Tory moats and chandeliers; the Express could have torn into Luton MPs living in Southampton. No-score draws and incipient exhaustion all round.
But because 10 or 11 pages of print, carefully aimed, moved the story on selectively, offering something fresh for TV (and competing papers) to chase after at the end of every Newsnight, so the same tale and the selfsame disc seemed inexhaustibly shocking as Paxman’s lip curled time and again.
Impact – and sales – come from media interplay, not going it alone. Newspaper exclusives take off when TV the night before gets excited because the Daily Whatsitsname has got a scoop. Blogs… need press and television for glory in the second phase. TV investigations by themselves can’t hit the spot if the press sits on its hands. And the net, by itself, is a back-up medium when a deluge of Commons sleaze starts falling.
You want loads of detail and piles of archive stuff? You can forage around websites pretty fruitfully and sound off in a spate of furious blogs. But gocomparetheimpact.com? It’s not one or the other. Just everything and the kitchen sink – with print (93,000 copies up on day one, and maintaining clear gains through the week) bringing in the money that justifies the investment in the first place and helps pay for the big team of reporters who made it all possible. A flipping virtuous circle, in short: something wiping away the grime here and now, day by day, when journalism and every available medium matter.
Well done, and thanks to this 10-day boost, worth the money that was paid for the disk.
“More to Come”