Investigative non-profits booming

Charles Lewis

As large, for-profit news organizations find themselves struggling to support regular investigative reporting projects, non-profit organizations are rising to fill the vacuum. A report released today by the Investigative Reporting Workshop says the investigative ecosystem is not dying; in fact, it is thriving.

The report examined the financial transparency of these organizations, whether that information is publicly available and the demographics of non-profit employees. Subjects included 60 non-profits, 38 of which were started in the last four years.

“They seem to be proliferating like rabbits,” said Charles Lewis, founding executive director of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

Participants on an ONA panel told listeners that a number of organizations — both old and new — are serious about investigative work. But, they need a continuing influx of resources to make it happen.

By Molly Gray

Charles Lewis, of the Investigative Reporting Workshop, said lines are blurring between for-profit and non-profit news gathering organizations.

Lorie Hearn, executive director of the San Diego State University-based Watchdog Institute, said successes with paying partners are slow in coming.

Raney Aronson-Rath, senior producer at Frontline, said the organization has begun publishing some of its work online prior to broadcast in order to increase potential audience.

Kevin Davis, CEO of the Investigative News Network, said INN collaboration allows
network members to share information and create localized versions from other members’ stories.