Monday, March 15, 2010

Director's Notes: Foundations for News

Monday, March 15, 2010

  • Forever the Province. The American Journalism Review puffed up the Huffington Post Investigative Fund in its March issue.  The fund aims to create a new nonprofit business model and "to reinvent the way investigative journalism is done," according to Investigative Fund Executive Director Nick Penniman. Foundations shoulder a healthy percentage of the fund's operating budget.  Brant Houston of the University of Illinois notes that questions are bound to surface about the motivations of foundations that fund newsgathering.  "In the end, I think a lot of people are going to measure the importance and success of any of these ventures on the stories they produce, and the credibility of those stories," Houston said. 
  • Penniman believe it makes perfect sense for media groups to forge alliances with large foundations.  "Because investigative journalism is the most expensive and time-consuming, in my mind it will forever be the province of the nonprofit world."  He likens enterprise journalism to museums and educational and environmental causes.  "People have always understood that those things need to be funded through philanthropy," Penniman said.
  • Sexual Assault Study. Meanwhile, a recently released McCormick Foundation-funded investigation on campus assaults raises a provocative question about disclosure.  The national project on campus sexual assaults was managed by the Center for Public Integrity with feeds from regional nonprofit news organizations, including the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. questioned why the Boston University-based New England Center offered no data on BU.  More more on the brouhaha, click here
  • The final word goes to the Neiman Journalism Lab's Laura McGann, who came up with a set of three questions to distinguish the legitimacy of a nonprofit news organization:

1. Does the nonprofit create original news or commentary on a regular schedule?
2. Does it directly reach an audience (or does it fuel news outlets)?
3. Does it spend its money on and dedicate the bulk of its resources to journalism?

  • Quote of the week:  "Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault.  It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air." -Henry Anatole Grunwald

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