'Reporting is a job, somebody has to do it': Crowdfunding bid to cover inquest of Private Cheryl James

Freelance journalist Barry Keevins explains why he has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help him cover a two-month long inquest into the death 20 years ago of a soldier who was shot at Deepcut Army Barracks. He is looking to raise £1,000 to cover "petrol, parking, provisions and parenting", he said: "It's going to be two months in court most days and I want to be consistent. I don't think anybody else is going to do it."

As any freelance reporter will tell you, the last thing you want anybody to know is what you are up to or where you earn your money from.

A few months ago, I decided to put it all out there in an online crowdfunding project with Byline.com I've tried to avoid drawing conclusions in the project – I'm a reporter and speculation in print, even online, doesn't come naturally – preferring to use what I can report as fact to draw potential funders in.

A glance at progress toward the heavily downgraded funding target for the project will give you an idea why I'm thinking of reconsidering this stance and why I'm writing this piece.

Reporting is a job, somebody has to do it.

Stories which matter to people and change things aren't pulled from Facebook or datasets.

Live tweeting from inside court is great but somebody has to be there to do it.

When the opportunity to cover a story with huge, national implications comes along, it's hard to resist but it's harder to commit if you need money.

A client list is more important than your contacts book and the people you can count on for quick answers and regular jobs are worth their weight.

The nimble freelance has to be adaptable to survive, however, and when a story I have been involved with for years started to develop, it was time to get fit.

Spending every day in court for two months might sound like fun, it might not, but it's two months when you can't earn money from anything else.

Committing to a single job every day when there's no guarantees is impossible when you don't have a salary.

Budgets and news agendas being what they are, no daily paper is going to commit one of their own, never mind a freelance, to sitting in one room for two months.

Crowdfunding seemed to be the way forward.

I cast around for ideas and had a look at a few platforms.

After speaking to the only person I had heard was doing well out of crowdfunding, Peter Jukes, I signed on with Byline.com and started working.

That was four months ago and the hearings start in less than four weeks from now.

The case I want to cover is the second inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James at the British army barracks near Deepcut in Surrey.

She was found shot dead 20 years ago.

The initial inquest was overturned and a second one in Woking starts on 1 February.

I've been involved in the story since being tasked with finding a new line on it while working shifts at the News of the World in 2002.

As well as NoW, I've had Deepcut stories published in the Mail on Sunday and The Mirror and picked up in most of the other nationals.

After staying with a story for so long, I really want to see this inquest through.

It's a chance to report information which will be in the open for the first time.

Even if everybody finds out what I'm up to and where I'm getting the money from, it's a rule worth breaking if it means an important story will not go under reported.

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