The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today that the Center for Investigative Reporting is one of 15 organizations in six countries that has received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. At a time of extreme change and turmoil in the world of news, MacArthur’s recognition and investment in CIR underscores the value and influence investigative news has in today’s world. 

This award, which comes with a $1 million grant for capacity building and sustainability, recognizes organizations that provide new ways of addressing problems, generate provocative ideas, innovate within their field, reframe the debate and have impact altogether disproportionate to their size.

The MacArthur honor is a tribute to our hardworking 39-person staff. CIR has expanded over the last four years from a struggling nonprofit with a 35-year legacy and a staff of seven, to an innovative leader in multiplatform accountability journalism. And all this during a time when investigative reporting has been decimated in newsrooms around the country and the world.

Being part of this team energizes me every day. They are an incredible group of people who are committed to high quality journalism and finding new ways to engage and reach audiences. They have gotten us here as a team.

Over the last few years, with the launch of our award-winning California Watch project, the addition of our video production team, and our expansion into data production and reporting, we have helped pioneer a collaborative journalism model both internally and externally. We have experimented with new forms of reporting, from animations to interactive data maps to coloring books. We’ve worked with local, state and national media partners to expand the reach of our work. Over the last few years, we have produced stories that have led to real change, helped people identify and connect with problems right where they live and have set a new standard for broad, multimedia distribution.

When I came here four years ago, I never could have imagined we’d be where we are today. This award will provide crucial support as we continue on this great adventure of reinventing journalism. Stay tuned for more. 

Robert Rosenthal is executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. 

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Robert J. Rosenthal is the chief executive officer at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Rosenthal was the executive director of CIR from January 2008 to spring 2017. When he joined CIR, it had a staff of seven and when he left, it had a staff of nearly 70 and was recognized as one of the leading nonprofit newsrooms in the country. He is an award-winning journalist and worked for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal worked for 22 years at The Inquirer, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming its executive editor in 1998. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in late 2002 and left in 2007. During this time, he led the investigation into the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. That work became known as the award-winning Chauncey Bailey Project. Before joining The Inquirer in 1979, Rosenthal worked for six years as a reporter at The Boston Globe and three and a half years at The New York Times, where he was a news assistant on the foreign desk and an editorial assistant on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pentagon Papers project. As a reporter, Rosenthal won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Award for magazine writing, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished foreign correspondence and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Third World reporting. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting and was a Pulitzer judge four times. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Rosenthal is also currently advising or on the board of multiple journalism nonprofits. In 2018, Rosenthal was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists for his “extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.”