New Investigative Reporting Fund Includes Google Director

With the news business facing cutbacks and having made investigative reporting fashionable again, 12 such journalists are launching their own Foundation For Investigative Reporting, together with a fund to “support the kind of risky, challenging reporting for which there is a crying demand”. It’s like a nascent UK version of ProPublica, the philanthropy-backed US network run for the same purpose. Members include…

— Heather Brooke – the reporter who kickstarted the MP expenses investigation last year and is co-launching Help Me Investigate
— Peter Barron- the Newsnight editor turned Google (NSDQ: GOOG) UK and northern Europe communications director says he’s involved “in a private capacity”.
— David Leigh — the well-thought-of Guardian investigations editor.

To start, they are seeking donations to fund investigations; they call it an “experiment”, building toward “all sorts of innovative fundraising methods”. To what extent is the Foundation just an umbrella for the freelance and extra-curricular activities of a dozen journos whose papers are all cutting back at the moment?

Maybe; but (though he may have only been thinking aloud at this stage), MSN UK executive producer Peter Bale’s response that “my immediate thought was to think of commissioning them to do something for us” may suggest news sites could look to the group to boost their credentials in the same way’s MP investigation has skyrocketed its traffic. Barron’s involvement may be Google’s only involvement in direct-funding journalism – CEO Eric Schmidt recently ruled out financing projects like ProPublica.