Group to offer non-profit investigative reporting

Req: A, E, N, S

Non-profit journalism took a big step recently with the announcement that a group will soon hire approximately two dozen investigative reporters and editors to do special projects involving investigations into government wrongdoing.

According to the New York Times,

The nonprofit group, called Pro Publica, will pitch each project to a newspaper or magazine (and occasionally to other media) where the group hopes the work will make the strongest impression. The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeeds in government, business and organizations.

Nothing quite like it has been attempted, and despite having a lot going for it, Pro Publica will be something of an experiment, inventing its practices by trial and error. It remains to be seen how well it can attract talent and win the cooperation of the mainstream media.

[Continue reading Pro Publica]

The move is controversial on several fronts, not the least of which is that it is funded by billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler, who the Times notes are “major Democratic political donors and critics of President Bush.”

This has caused some consternation among journalists, as expressed by Jack Shafer at Slate:

ProPublica’s Web site vows that its investigations will be conducted in a “non-partisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality.” But philanthropists, especially those who earned the fortune they’re giving away, tend not to distribute their money with a blind eye to the results. How happy will they be if ProPublica gores their sacred Democratic cows? Or takes the “wrong” position on their pet projects: health, the environment, and civil liberties?

[Continue reading Investigating Herbert and Marion Sandler]

According to ProPublica’s web site, operations will begin in 2008.

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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