Afflict the Comfortable and Comfort the Afflicted


A major new nonprofit investigative journalism effort was announced today — ProPublica — that will certainly have a huge salutary impact on the health of our media, and by extension the health of our democracy. This is a important development.

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that will produce investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work will focus exclusively on truly important stories, stories with "moral force." We will do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

The new outfit will be staffed by 24 fulltime reporters and editors when it’s fully up and running. It will be the largest single journalism staff, according to their press release, devoted solely to investigative reporting.

Jeff Jarvis worries about "white knights" from foundations riding in to save the media, but he’s a little less worried about foundations whose interest it is to rejuvenate investigative journalism. something about which I think we can all agree needs a major new infusion of resources.

The big backer behind this new effort is the San Francisco based Sandler Foundation which has pledged $10 million a year for each of three years. Other participants are more modest in their contributions. Atlantic Philanthropies and the JEHT Foundation are kicking in one time grants of $25,000 and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is giving at one time grant of $250,000. Kudos to all of them for having the foresight to launch such an effort.