Huffington Post Pursues Foundation-funded Model to Conduct Investigative Journalism

Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University School of Journalism To Collaborate with Fund By Involving Students in Investigative Projects

New York, NY – The Huffington Post announced last week that it is launching a new initiative that will allow it to pursue investigative journalism. The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is being funded by The Huffington Post and The Atlantic Philanthropies, and will be headed by Nick Penniman, founder of The American News Project, which will be folded into the Investigative Fund.

“The importance of investigative journalism cannot be overstated — especially during our tumultuous times — and we are delighted to be creating an initiative whose goal is to produce stories that will have a real impact both nationally and locally,” said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. “Everyone who recognizes the role good journalism plays in our democracy is looking for ways to preserve it during this time of great transition for the media. The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is one of the ways we are addressing that need, while also providing work and a platform for seasoned journalists downsized by major media outlets. We are grateful to the American News Project and The Atlantic Philanthropies for their generous contributions, and intend to engage with other donors as we continue to expand the Fund.”

Kenneth Lerer, co-founder and chairman of The Huffington Post, said, “There is no more critical reporting than investigative journalism. This nonprofit investigative journalism venture is a very important and logical next step for The Huffington Post. Our mission will be to produce and distribute distinguished, independent journalism made widely-available to all news outlets. We are proud to be working with our prestigious partners and look forward to expanding and building upon this venture with other investigative news organizations from around the country, and the world.”

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, headquartered in Washington, DC, will produce a broad range of investigative journalism created by both staff reporters and freelance writers, with a focus on working with the many experienced reporters and writers impacted by the economic contraction. The pieces will range from long-form investigations to short breaking news stories and will be presented in a variety of media — including text, audio and video — and will be free for any media outlet to publish simultaneously. The Huffington Post Investigative Fund will have an initial budget of $1.75 million.

Nick Penniman, executive director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, said: “I’m looking forward to producing journalism that can have an impact, and that incorporates the best of traditional journalism and the tools of new media and distributed journalism.”

Jay Rosen, associate professor of journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, will serve as a senior advisor to the project. Rosen, as a director of NewAssignment.Net, his research project at NYU, previously collaborated with The Huffington Post on OffTheBus — an experiment in citizen journalism that drew 12,000 contributors and gained widespread media attention for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

Said Rosen:

“In addition to collaborating on OffTheBus, I’ve been writing for years about this possibility – distributed reporting projects that efficiently coordinate the efforts of volunteers, data-combing efforts that are open source, as well as teams of pros and amateurs working together — and I think The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is the next logical step.”

By leveraging The Huffington Post’s growing audience, along with the growing audience of other online news outlets, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund will also provide a higher profile for the work of existing investigative reporting outfits with which it will partner, including Spot.US, The Center for Public Integrity, The Institute for Justice and Journalism, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and The European Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Additionally, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund will work closely with Eyes & Ears, HuffPost’s citizen journalism project, harnessing the power of HuffPost’s community of engaged readers to yield research, insights, and information.

Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University’s Journalism School, who has consulted with The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, said, “This is an exciting development and we look forward to having our students work on investigative projects with this new venture. Now more than ever, we need strong collaboration and funding for journalism that holds individuals and institutions accountable.”