Today, we’re releasing “Reinventing Journalism,” Executive Director Robert J. Rosenthal’s personal account of joining the Center for Investigative Reporting and launching California Watch. We hope that the report, written at the request of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will help other nonprofit reporting ventures learn from our experience and shed light on where the rapidly changing landscape of journalism, and especially investigative reporting, might be headed.

As he says in the opening paragraph, Robert had no idea what he was getting into when he walked into CIR in 2008. “Reinventing Journalism” is his personal account of finding his way: from his own history as a copyboy and young reporter, to assignments around the world, to being in the ring for the collapse of the traditional media business model, to seizing the opportunity to create a new kind of journalism organization, to his own evolution from journalist to what he calls “salesman/evangelical entrepreneur.”

Robert writes about becoming a fundraiser and its excruciating challenges; describes the launch of California Watch and how the distribution and impact of its first stories exceeded his wildest expectations; and addresses the search for sustainability and looking forward to the future of investigative reporting and the nonprofit model. Lastly, he distills his top 10 lessons learned.

“Reinventing Journalism” is available here online and here as a PDF. Or, through a partnership with Byliner, you can download the eBook from Project Gutenberg. Google’s eBookstore and Apple’s iBooks links to come soon.

We’re also hoping you’ll take a look at our new video about California Watch, produced by superstar intern Ariane Wu.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Christa Scharfenberg

Christa Scharfenberg is a former CEO of The Center for Investigative Reporting. She joined CIR in 2003 as communications manager and has been a leader in its growth from a small nonprofit news organization, producing a handful of stories a year, to a multiplatform newsroom that reaches millions of people monthly through public radio, podcasts, documentaries, social media and the web. She managed the launch and growth of Reveal, CIR's Peabody Award and duPont-Columbia University Award-winning national public radio show and podcast, produced with PRX. She has been an executive or senior producer of documentaries for CIR, including the Academy Award-nominated film “Heroin(e),” numerous FRONTLINE co-productions and the independent film “Banished,” which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Scharfenberg is a member of the Poynter Institute's National Advisory Board and was a 2014 Punch Sulzberger Program fellow at Columbia University Journalism School. Prior to joining CIR, she was associate director of the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco.