NEW YORK: A well-funded new nonprofit venture named ProPublica is out to revive the flagging practice of investigative journalism in American media.
The project will be funded to the tune of $10 million per year, primarily by the foundation of Herbert Sandler, founder of Golden West Financial Corp. Its editor-in-chief will be Paul Steiger, who served as the top editor of The Wall Street Journal until earlier this year.
ProPublica GM Richard Tofel, another former top editor of the Journal who will lead the business and operational side of the new venture, said Sandler has had a longtime interest in bolstering investigative reporting, which has been on the decline in many newsrooms as newspapers cut back on the relatively high-expense, low-volume practice.
Set to formally launch early next year, ProPublica plans to field a staff of 24, which will produce stories and then offer them for free to major media outlets.
While preliminary outreach to publications has garnered a positive response to the idea, Tofel said, the group will also promote its own work.
"It's going to vary from story to story," he said. "We would envision that we would place the story with a leading news organization, then work with them to supplement their efforts that normally go into promoting stories."
ProPublica has yet to decide exactly how much content it will produce, but will operate like a normal newsroom. The group is currently in the process of hiring staff. It has received "hundreds" of résumés in the days following its announcement, Tofel said.
The venture has no plans to sell advertising. "In the near term, and for quite some time, it will be supported by philanthropy," said Tofel. "Down the road, there may be some opportunities to figure out a longer, sustainable model."
ProPublica is not working with any PR agency.