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Skin & BoneAn online showcase has been launched to promote a source of in-depth, visually rich reporting on a wide variety of interesting topics, using digital publishing tools.

The showcase, launched by Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute of the Missouri School of Journalism, includes investigative/explanatory journalism reports on a variety of subjects including illegal trading of human body parts; fish depletion in the oceans; President Barack’s Obama’s first few months in office; the worst global financial crisis; genetic technology; sleep research; the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl; and the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.

Roger Fidler, RJI’s program director of digital publishing, refers to the e-book model he created as “digital newsbooks.” The newsbooks are designed to be comfortably read on mobile media devices, such as tablets, e-readers and smartphones, as well as laptop and desktop computers.

Fidler initiated the newsbook project at RJI shortly after founding the Digital Publishing Alliance, a member-supported initiative of RJI, in 2007. Since then, Fidler and graduate student assistants from the Missouri School of Journalism have produced more than 40 newsbooks.

Newsbooks have been created for news organizations, including The Center for Public Integrity and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times).

Future of e-books

While most of the newsbooks showcased on the RJI website are free to download, Fidler expects e-books to become an important source of revenue for news organizations in the not-too-distant future. Several newspapers are already selling e-books through the Apple and Amazon bookstores and more are likely to follow as tablets and e-readers proliferate.

Fidler said, “News organizations that charge a reasonable price for their e-books and adopt a long-tail marketing strategy, should be able to generate significant revenue from their newsbooks over time.”

Fidler also sees a growing market for newsbooks in education.

“Digital newsbooks can fill an essential need for supplemental course materials that address current events in high schools and colleges,” he said.

The Center for Public Integrity and ICIJ have been using their RJI digital newsbooks to attract donations and new members, as well as to build audience loyalty since 2007.

Kimberly Porteous, ICIJ’s digital editor, said she is “very grateful for RJI’s attention to detail and commitment to producing quality products.”

The ICIJ’s latest digital newsbook titled “Skin and Bone: The shadowy trade in human body parts,” is now available on the ICIJ website.

RJI plans to continue producing digital newsbooks at no cost to members of the Digital Publishing Alliance. Click here to learn more about RJI digital newsbook Project and view the full showcase.



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