Will Philanthropy And Media Team Up To Create An Investigative-News Network?

Next week, a group of about 26 online news startups, newspapers, broadcasters and academics will gather at Pocantico, a former Rockefeller family estate, to discuss funding an investigative news network, Outsell’s Ken Doctor reports. As news staffs cut to bone, a number of non-profits have been helping to fill the void — and a disproportionate share of that money has been going to investigative-news ventures. Over the last four years, about $128 million in grants have flowed to roughly 115 news projects, with the largest share, $65 million, going to “investigative” projects, Doctor notes, citing figures from the Knight Foundation-funded J-Lab. “Sources tell me that major foundations — some that have previously considered ‘news and information’ to be fairly far afield from their philanthropic mandates — are now talking about the large sums of money that may be needed to fill the gaps left by cratering dailies in big metro markets,” Doctor says.

Attendees of the two-day conference next week, Watchdogs At Pocantico, include representatives from NPR, PBS affiliate WNET, non-profit news site MinnPost, The McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) Company’s Sacramento Bee and the Huffington Post, which is already funding an investigative journalism initiative.

This project is being headed by The Center for Public Integrity and The Center for Investigative Reporting, which got money from The Rockerfeller Brothers Fund, The Surdna Foundation and The William Penn Foundation to fund the conference. Earlier this month, the two centers were joined by two other non-profits, the Investigative Reporting Workshop and ProPublica, on a six-month pilot project to collaborate on similar watchdog news efforts.