Huff Post to save investigative journalism?

The Huffington Post is teaming up with donors to create a non-profit fund for investigative journalism.

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund will be funded by the Huff Post and The Atlantic Philanthropies and will be run by Nick Penniman, whose American News Project will be folded into the new fund.

The starting budget will be US$1.75 million, which Huff Post founder Ariana Huffington said is enough for a staff of 10 journalists who will co-ordinate with freelancers.

Huffington said in a note to readers:

As the newspaper industry continues to contract, one of the most commonly voiced fears is that serious investigative journalism will be among the victims of the scaleback. And, indeed, many newspapers are drastically reducing their investigative teams. Yet, given the multiple crises we are living through, investigative journalism is all the more important. As a result, all who recognize the indispensable role good journalism plays in our democracy are looking for ways to preserve it during this transitional period for the media. For too long, whether it’s coverage of the war in Iraq or the economic meltdown, we’ve had too many autopsies and not enough biopsies. The HuffFund is our attempt to change this. It will also provide new opportunities for seasoned journalists who have been laid off or forced into early retirement.”

Jay Rosen, an associate professor of journalism at New York University, is also involved in project. On his PressThink blog, he discusses his involvement:

“Much about how the fund will operate has yet to be determined, but
mostly what the money is for is to pay journalists and the costs of
investigations. Some of those journalists will work for the fund as
staff editors, some will be contracted for as freelancers on a
story-by-story basis. Some of the money will, I hope, be used for
innovative projects that move in an open source or pro-am direction.
That is one of the reasons I am joining up, to advise on that portion.
I also think the Fund is an important and public-spirited thing to do;
I want to see it come out right, and to gain more resources than it has
at the moment.”