Investigative journalism, one of the casualties of shrinking newsroom budgets, is getting some help from an unlikely source: The Huffington Post, an internet darling known for links and commentary, not in-depth reporting. The HuffPo, along with The Atlantic Philanthropies and other unnamed donors, is launching a $1.75 million fund to support the work of up to 10 investigative reporters. Their work will run on HuffingtonPost.com but will also be made available for free to any publication that wants to print or post it, according to an Associated Press report.
As the AP points out, the effort sounds a lot like ProPublica, a non-profit group led by former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger that also funds investigative journalism projects and gives the resulting stories away for any publication to run. “All of us increasingly have to look at different ways to save investigative journalism,” Arianna Huffington tells the AP, adding that she plans to hire laid-off reporters.
There’s a hint of irony to HuffPo‘s plans to create new content and share it with its news brethren: Some traditional media outlets have previously accused the HuffPo of stealing their content. The Chicago Reader, for instance, charged The Huffington Post with “grand theft” after it reprinted one of the publication’s articles wholesale on its site, instead of simply printing the first paragraph or two and then linking to it. And reaction to HuffPo‘s new initiative hasn’t been all positive. In a post last night, MinnPost.com Contributor Dave Brauer writes, “I can’t shake the feeling this is window dressing for a site that could be sued for oversharing others’ work.”