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New Non-Profit Hopes to Revive Lost Art of Investigative Journalism

New Non-Profit Hopes to Revive Lost Art of Investigative Journalism

Former Wall Street Journal editor Paul E. Steiger hopes to bring investigative journalism back to the newspaper business.

October 15, 2007 —

As newspapers scale down their operations to cope with decreasing circulation, one of the first things to suffer has been the most costly, time-intensive endeavor in journalism: investigative reporting. “It is the deep-dive stuff and the aggressive follow-up that is most challenged in the budget process,” says Paul Steiger, former editor of the Wall Street Journal. Steiger hopes to help fill in the gaps left by scaled-down papers with a new non-profit called Pro Publica.

The venture will consist of 24 reporters based in New York City, and focus on providing pro-bono investigative journalism to newspapers around the country. It's the first project of its kind, and there is some question as to how willing major newspapers will be to put their name on outsourced investigative reporting, but there's no arguing that it's a much-needed service.

Most national and international stories now come from a handful of newspapers and wire services, and there is little incentive for local newsrooms to spend increasingly scarce budget dollars investigating congressional corruption or corporate malfeasance. Independent web-journalism has often aimed to supplant "old media" in these areas, but a multi-million dollar budget, a legal team, and a staff of two-dozen seasoned reporters can certainly come in handy when you're taking on the rich and powerful.

Do you believe that investigative reporting is the backbone of good journalism? Then consider a subscription to the local newspaper, national magazine or other media source that continues to dig deeper on the issues that really matter.

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