A longtime editor of the Wall Street Journal is creating a new kind of journalism, backed by a couple of wealthy donors. Paul Steiger is forming a group of investigative journalists who will give away their work to media outlets. “The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeeds in government, business and organizations,” said today’s story in the New York Times.
The entity will be called Pro Publica, and it’s the creation of Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler, political Democrats and former chief executives of a U.S. financial company. They have committed $10 million a year to the project, with smaller amounts from other sources. That will fund, said the Times story, a newsroom in New York City with a large staff of 24 investigative journalists and a dozen other employees.
UPDATE: Slate’s Jack Shafer has some strong opinions on the funders/founders of Pro Publica whose past attitude to a free press has been, well, less than respectful, he suggests. His solution?
If I were a newspaper editor considering ProPublica copy for a future issue, the first thing I’d want is proof of a firewall preventing the Sandlers and other funders from picking—or nixing—the targets of its probes. And if I were an editorial writer, I’d call upon Herbert Sandler to provide ProPublica with 10 years of funding ($100 million), and then resign from his post as the organization’s chairman so he’ll never be tempted to bollix up what might turn out to be a good thing.