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A New Species in the News Ecosystem
March 30, 2009 1:12 PM   Subscribe

The Huffington Post just announced that it is launching a new initiative to produce a wide range of investigative journalism — The Huffington Post Investigative Fund.

Arianna Huffington has various ideas about how to fix the hole that failing newspapers leave behind, but this does have some precedent.

Some reactions so far.
posted by Potomac Avenue (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
A key quote from Jay Rosen, the NYU journalism professor who is helping to set this up:

"I also counseled Nick and Arianna (she will help raise money for the fund, and find partners for it) that the best approach is to have no orthodoxy and to support very traditional investigative reporting by paid pros who are good at it, as well as teams of pros and amateurs, students working with masters of the craft, crowdsourced investigations, and perhaps other methods."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:16 PM on March 30, 2009


"Do you understand that the world does not revolve around you and your "do whatever it takes, ruin as many people's lives, so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long so you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied and dying along the way"?
posted by djgh at 1:21 PM on March 30, 2009


You think that you're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite... you aren't.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can derelict my own balls!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:24 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


End result: partisan black-ops organizations, whose sole purpose is to dig up questionably-verifiable dirt on the opposition.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:29 PM on March 30, 2009


Here's an idea to support investigative journalism: subscribe to your local paper.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:29 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Huffington Post FOX News leans liberal conservative, but Ms. Huffington Mr. Murdoch promised that the work done by the investigative fund would be nonpartisan.

As Hemingway used to say: How do you like it now, gentlemen?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's an idea to support investigative journalism: subscribe to your local paper.

When has this ever been a good idea? My local newspaper has been a hack for the Republican party and local business interests for more than fifty years. They perform no actual journalism; they merely transcribe press releases.

The real problem with funding investigative journalism is how do you collect money to investigate and publish information that someone, somewhere, would pay even more to keep secret?
posted by SPrintF at 1:41 PM on March 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope it works. I wonder how they stand to make money on this model though? I guess it depends upon getting people to go to HP to read their stuff first and perhaps to allow the wholesale re-posting only with attribution and a link back to HP which could then generate more traffic.
posted by caddis at 1:47 PM on March 30, 2009


If their science coverage is any indicator of the integrity of their investigators, thanks but no thanks for me, HuffPo.
posted by palindromic at 1:47 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Huffington Post sucks enough without the added suck of yet another "SEE WAT BIG CORPORATION$ WANT TO KEEP $ECRET!11!!" angle.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before this goes down the dreaded Newspapers Suck vs Newspapers Rule waterslide to Hades, I want to spray some fairy dust on the Huffington Post and all other online journalism outlets in order that they might be able to keep this promise they are making to their consumers and to the american public--Please please please hire the best professional investigative writers who are getting laid off in part because of the effectiveness of your delivery system, and please please please use them wisely and evenhandedly to find shit out that is happening in real life (second star to the right, and straight on till morning).

This New New-News News make me cautiously hopeful that people in charge are starting to see the danger that the collapse of the truth market presents, not just to their bottom line, but to the freedom of our press and the future of our politics.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


If the current version of Huffpo is any indication, this will be an epic fail.

Just listen to Jack Donaghy.
posted by cjets at 2:48 PM on March 30, 2009


Here's an idea to support investigative journalism: subscribe to your local paper.

A joke, of course. I don't subscribe to my local paper, yet for about four months they delivered "free sample" copies to my doorstep. I collected them all into a large cardboard box and mailed them back along with a letter detailing exactly why they were unwelcome. The core reason being that nearly everything in the paper was not even written by someone in my state, or employed locally, or about anything local. It was nearly all syndicated generic bullshit that every single other "local" paper in the country would be running that week to fill space they couldn't competently fill otherwise.
posted by odinsdream at 4:12 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey Huffington Post, here's one of the first things you can investigate. Guantanamo and Guantanamo Bay are actually two different places! Good luck in your future joornalistick pursoots!
posted by JJ86 at 7:31 PM on March 30, 2009


murdochpost.com
posted by Tenuki at 8:55 PM on March 30, 2009


Investigative journalism, one of the casualties of shrinking newsroom budgets, is getting some help from an unlikely source: The Huffington Post, an internet darling known for links and commentary, not in-depth reporting. ... In a post last night, MinnPost.com Contributor Dave Brauer writes, "I can't shake the feeling this is window dressing for a site that could be sued for oversharing others' work."

Yes ..... because traditional journo outlets like the Washington Post and MinnPost are simply overflowing with originality and enterprise. MinnPost's own Daily Glean is a collection of blurbs replete with links to articles from Politico, MinnesotaIndependent, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. The first sentence in one of the Washington Post's Most Viewed Articles section tonight reads, "When things go boom and light up the sky, the first thing people do is call the police." Call Joseph Pulitzer back from the dead for that one!

I'm not defending the HuffPost and its practices, but this holier-than-thou act is utterly ridiculous.
posted by blucevalo at 8:59 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The one compliment I always have for Arianna Huffington is the masterful way she manages to hide the 37-pound brass balls she's packing in every interview she gives about her "ideas" on what to do about the dwindling news industry where she conveniently forgets to mention that she does not pay anyone to write on her website.

Jesus Christ. Yeah, I guess she'd be a great person to head a "new investigative non-profit." She runs the largest volunteer organization on the goddamn internet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:10 PM on March 30, 2009


"Here's an idea to support investigative journalism: subscribe to your local paper."

My local paper does almost no real investigative reporting. The best place for that these days is a handful of magazines, like Harper's and The New Yorker. The local paper does mostly original material, so that's definitely a plus, but it is a weekly. It's a small town ...

I like Arianna Huffington, though her Post site is way too cluttered. She's liberal but not too doctrinaire, but her site is not quite so independent. This project sounds interesting. I hope she is really more interested in the quality than the particular political angle. And I hope she will pay people who do this work. Sounds like she's actually hiring people, so they probably will get compensated.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:37 PM on March 30, 2009


pffffffffffffffttt.
posted by mmmleaf at 11:16 PM on March 30, 2009


My advice: spend one third on funding the investigative journalism, and keep two thirds back to fight the lawsuits.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:34 AM on March 31, 2009


Here's an idea to support investigative journalism: subscribe to your local paper.

Hmm... People seem think this is a silly idea, or that I was joking. It isn't and I wasn't. All reporting is "investigative reporting" (which is just a pretentious way of saying "reporting.") Most of the people who do that "investigative reporting" work for local papers, so if local papers die, those reporters will lose their jobs. I know quite a number of them. The Huffington Post is not going to save these local reporters, or the news gathering papers in your town. You've got to do that, and the only way I know is to pay them, which is to say admit you live outside New York City, put down the f'in NYT, and subscribe to your local paper. But, of course, if you'd rather not have anyone looking into your local police force, city council, school district, political races, then by all means, don't subscribe to the local paper. It'll be gone soon enough.

But don't worry, a free press really isn't important...
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:55 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


MarshallPoe: What is your local paper?
posted by odinsdream at 7:31 AM on March 31, 2009


MarshallPoe is right. The death of the local newspaper will largely eliminate local investigative journalism. Some will remain with TV. Hopefully, some local web based media will support paid news gathering. Weeklies may replace dailies. Our local weekly paper, a free paper with more ads than news, actually covers local stories in more depth than our local daily paper. However, with so much riding on a wide advertising base such papers are often loathe to publish stories that might disaffect an important advertiser. Traditional daily papers face similar pressures but journalism pride, ethics and tradition are more powerful forces there and are more likely to overwhelm the business pressure to withhold controversy.

Attitudes such as this are missing the point: The core reason being that nearly everything in the paper was not even written by someone in my state, or employed locally, or about anything local. It was nearly all syndicated generic bullshit that every single other "local" paper in the country would be running that week to fill space they couldn't competently fill otherwise. The local paper for most smaller cities can report on only a few local stories per day of real news. They lack the resources for more, and frankly there aren't that many of interest. The national and international news is AP as is some of the state news, with the rest of the state news often coming from sister newspapers in the state. The end result is a paper that has sufficient basic coverage at local, state and national/international levels for someone who wants one paper. The well informed reader probably skips all but the local news and finds the rest in a paper from a larger metropolitan area. I am lucky to have the NYT, all the news that fits. Anyway, my local paper costs a few bucks a week and keeps me up to date on major local stories. So what if the rest is filler? Of course, many people are not really invested in their local communities.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on March 31, 2009


caddis: I question your starting premise, that we have good investigative journalism now with the current local papers. I don't live in a large city, but I'm certain there are plenty of stories to fill out a paper that would be interesting to a local audience, but this product is simply not available. I don't understand the argument that I should pay for a product that only satisfies this condition on a theoretical level.
posted by odinsdream at 8:13 AM on March 31, 2009


odinsdream: Sorry so late, but I have three local papers: The Daily Iowan (the student newspaper at the University where I teach), The Iowa City Press Citizen, and The Gazette (Eastern Iowa).
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:04 PM on March 31, 2009


As a tree hugging, die-hard liberal to my very core… I have to say, this is a bad idea.

As has been mentioned already, the HuffPo angle on reality based science (particularly medicine) is skewed almost as badly as climate change deniers. I can't imagine a decent investigative arm being at all credible when associated with HuffPo.
posted by vertigo25 at 4:22 PM on March 31, 2009


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