Blog queen calls freelancers to pen exposés

Political and corporate crooks were heard shaking in their platinum-plated boots yesterday after the Huffington Post announced a £1.2m venture to fund investigative journalism.

The fund will feed a range of 'lid-lifting' stories, starting on the economy, to be penned both by the news blog’s permanent reporters and by freelancers, said its co-founder Arianna Huffington.

Writing on the website, known for mixing opinion with factual reports, Huffington said she hoped to use laid-off reporters to co-ordinate stories with her staff and external freelancers.

Explaining the fund’s reason for being, she expressed concern that serious investigative reporting was likely to be among the victims of a contracting newspaper industry.

“Yet, given the multiple crises we are living through, investigative journalism is all the more important,” Huffington wrote, before pointing to the war in Iraq and the economic meltdown.

“Picture a large pool of reporters - some on staff, and many freelancers - proposing stories and also receiving assignments from Investigative Fund editors.”

Huffington, hailed as Media Person of 2008, said she was ready to hear from potential Fund editors and reporters, and called for external proposals for investigative stories.

As the initial reportage will focus on the economy, the ‘Huff Po’ invited potential candidates to get in touch with ideas and tips on financial stories and cover-ups deserving scrutiny.

Reportedly heading off criticism that the resulting editorials will not be non-partisan, the project’s executive director Nick Penninman said: “We care about democracy, not Democrats.”

The non-profit fund, backed by the Huff Po and groups cheerleading for investigative reporting, has an initial budget of $1.75m, which is due to be increased as the project advances.

 

31st March 2009

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