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Sugar Daddy Donates $1.5 Mil to Center for Public Integrity

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are a bunch of lucky ducklings as an Australian businessman has invested $1.5 million in their brand of journalism at the Center for Public Integrity.

Graeme Wood has awarded the center a $1.5 million grant to increase global reporting and create an investigative journalism fellowship program. This is the Consortium’s largest donation in its 15-year history. According to a release, the Sydney philanthropist, businessman and founder of the online publication The Global Mail has pledged the funds ICIJ over the next three years “to bolster its cross-border investigative reporting capacity.”

Wood doesn’t come without controversy. Online reports indicate that he gave the largest political donation — $1.6 million –  in Australian history to the Greens party. In 2011, Helen Kroger, a liberal senator, questioned what kind of influence the donation had on members of the Greens Party serving in the Senate. She submitted the following inquiry in regards to Wood’s donation: “whether any person, by the offer or promise of an inducement or benefit, or by other improper means, attempted to influence a senator in the senator’s conduct as a senator, and whether any contempt was committed in that regard.”

Money speaks volumes. Wood was elected a member of the Center for Public Integrity’s Board of Directors at their June 21st meeting in New York.

And not surprisingly, the Center’s Exec. Director Bill Buzenberg has a new spring in his step. “On behalf of The Center for Public Integrity and ICIJ, we are tremendously motivated by Mr. Wood’s gift designed to strengthen our international collaborations with other investigative institutions,” said Buzenberg in a release. “A new research desk, fellowship program, and above all more reporting capacity will fortify ICIJ’s unique cross-border investigative work. We are very grateful for this important backing and Mr. Wood’s membership on our Board.”

Daddy Warbucks’ first act of business: an Aussi will be the first fellow. The release announces that the new year-long ICIJ Global Investigative Journalism Fellowship program, “launched thanks to Wood’s gift,” begins in January, 2014. The program will provide investigative training for international journalism fellows, beginning with a yet-to-be-named fellow from Australia.

More on Wood…From the release… The Australian entrepreneur is also the key backer of The Guardian newspaper’s new digital edition in Australia, and founder of Wotif.com, Australia’s leading travel website. An environmentalist and advocate of government transparency, Wood is additionally the founder of not-for-profit Wild Mob which engages young people in environmental conservation and Artology, which aims to develop the creative potential of young people through experiential learning in the Arts.

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