A recent story on National Public Radio examined the new career paths that journalists—including many investigative reporters—are forging as newspapers around the country struggle to survive. Some are turning to teaching, PR, and public service. Others are working to create new models for journalism: The Investigative News Network—a coalition of two dozen nonprofit journalism organizations (including the Center for Investigative Reporting)—met for the first time last week in New York to create a plan.
From NPR’s “Investigative Reporters Move Outside Newsrooms”:
As some newspapers are going out of business and many more are shedding costs, a lot of investigative journalists who have devoted years to exposing government corruption and corporate scandals are leaving their newsrooms.
While some have been given pink slips, others left on their own steam, bailing out for corporate or political PR jobs, teaching gigs or even new careers as private investigators.
… Investigative journalists are just one element of the exodus from newspapers, which have taken a series of financial blows: Many companies have stopped advertising in print publications as circulation has fallen in recent years, and the economy has been brutal to remaining advertisers. Many major newspaper companies, including McClatchy, Gannett, Tribune and Lee, are struggling to make their debt payments. (The Tribune Co., which owns the L.A. Times, is in bankruptcy, as are the parent companies of big papers in Minneapolis and Philadelphia.)
There are no firm figures quantifying how many investigative journalists have left the business in the past few years. Officials at the professional association Investigative Reporters and Editors said they did not know.
… For example, former Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson now teaches journalism at Northeastern University; his students’ stories have been published by the Globe. Three former Los Angeles Times reporters have joined Pro Publica, a new not-for-profit organization in New York City, and their work has appeared on the front page of the L.A. Times. And other, less heralded examples have sprung up around the country, and are connecting to established groups such as the Center for Investigative Reporting in California and the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
“This is a grass-roots effort that’s happening around the country and really started to blossom last year,” says Houston, now a professor at the University of Illinois.
On Wednesday, a coalition of not-for-profit media outlets—including NPR—announced the creation of what it’s calling the Investigative News Network to harness this scattered energy.