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Richard Behar: There Is A Dire Need For Pro Publica

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To paraphrase the American writer Mark Twain, reports as to the demise of investigative journalism have been greatly exaggerated. The New York Times reports that Pro Publica, the non-profit investigative journalism project, is planning on establishing a newsroom in NYC with a large staff of journos, a star-studded Board, and a commitment of $10 million a year. FishbowlNY asked investigative journalist Richard Behar his thoughts on the venture:

”There is such a dire need for what Steiger and the Sandlers are planning to do. And Paul has the expertise, the credibility, and now the funding to make it a success. Public trust in the media is at an all-time low, while the space for solid, long-form and non-partisan investigative reporting has been shrinking everywhere. And I don’t think those two facts are unrelated.”

”A decade ago, when Norm Pearlstine was running Time, Inc., we chatted about how exciting it would be to launch an investigative magazine. I said, ‘Just put the country’s best investigative reporters in one newsroom and watch the magic begin.’ He loved the idea but didn’t think it could ever be profitable. Today we’re in a far worse environment. Most major magazines and newspapers have cut back dramatically on the little investigative reporting they were doing even 10 years ago. So Paul’s approach makes plenty of sense.

”Most investigative reporters I know have been struggling to hold onto their jobs, while others have just given up and found other ways to make a living. Meanwhile, there are hundreds, even thousands of important stories that aren’t getting reported today. Or else editors expect that that award-winning pieces can be knocked out with a week or two of reporting. Anyone who cares about great journalism better hope that Paul succeeds. There’s plenty of talent out there he can harness. He’ll probably have 100 great resumes on his desk by noon.”

(image via clipart)

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