The Post and ProPublica
Post readers saw a new byline attached to an investigative piece played prominently today.
The story was co-authored by Post banking writer Binyamin Appelbaum and Paul Kiel, a reporter for an independent, nonprofit journalism organization called ProPublica. It was classic investigative journalism, raising questions about whether Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s staff had improperly asked federal regulators to check on the bailout application of a home-state bank that holds the bulk of his personal wealth.
It’s the third collaboration this year between The Post and New York-based ProPublica. Another is in the works.
On Monday, Post reporter Brady Dennis teamed with ProPublica’s Jeff Gerth, a Pultizer winner, to reveal how General Electric, the world’s largest industrial company, managed to become the biggest beneficiary of a federal rescue program for banks.
In April, Gerth and Post reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr., wrote a lengthy story looking at Timothy Geithner’s role in bank regulation before he became Treasury secretary.
The partnerships are good for The Post because they offer quality reporting free of charge at a time when resources are being stretched and the paper is losing money.
They’re good for ProPublica, giving exposure to its work and fulfilling its goal of producing investigative journalism.
And they’re especially good for Post readers, who crave solid watchdog reporting. Readership surveys consistently show that readers want more so-called “accountability journalism.”
ProPublica is the best-known of a small number of nonprofit news organizations to emerge at a time when newspapers are struggling for survival. Funded primarily through a multi-year commitment from the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, ProPublica began operations in early 2008 with a projected $10 million annual budget. It hired more than 30 journalists, including some of the best reporting and editing talent in the business, and is headed by former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger. (Full disclosure: I serve on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which is chaired by Steiger.)
The chief benefactors, Herbert and Marion Sandler, made a fortune running California-based Golden West Financial Corporation, a savings and loan company that merged with Wachovia several years ago. They have contributed heavily to Democratic candidates and left-leaning advocacy groups. Herbert Sandler chairs ProPublica's governing board, but Steiger has said the Sandlers gave assurances of independence and that they do not know in advance what stories are being pursued.
Jeff Leen, who heads The Post’s investigative reporting unit, said of ProPublica: “They bring us ideas and we choose from their menu.”
The collaboration is about 50-50 between Post and ProPublica reporters. The two sides work as a team, but in the end the story goes through The Post’s editing process and is scrutinized by the newspaper’s in-house libel counsel. When it is published, it also appears on proPublic’s Web site.
In a sense, Leen said, The Post serves as a “distribution channel” for stories that might originate with ProPublica.
Despite cutbacks at The Post, Leen said management remains fully committed to an investigative unit. Currently, he oversees a team of ten reporters who have six major projects in the pipeline.
| July 1, 2009; 3:58 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Jackson, Sanford Coverage: Enough Already?
Next: The Post's 'Salon' Plan: A Public Relations Disaster
Posted by: Gray62 | July 2, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tresangelas | July 2, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: oncebitten | July 2, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dijamo | July 2, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: janowicki | July 2, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: janowicki | July 2, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: EdTheRed | July 2, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: labradog | July 2, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 4sl5t | July 2, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: egb3 | July 2, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: janowicki | July 2, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tresangelas | July 2, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: janowicki | July 2, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: EdTheRed | July 2, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: frodot | July 2, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PitchforksandTorches | July 2, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: capsfan77 | July 2, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: pmorlan1 | July 2, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: janowicki | July 2, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: swamus | July 2, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LarryG62 | July 2, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JaxMax | July 2, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.