As 2011 began, the Center for Investigative Reporting and its robust new creation, California Watch, were in good shape. We had received a great deal of positive publicity the previous year and earned recognition within the journalism community, which helped with fundraising.
Robert J. Rosenthal
Chief Executive Officer
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.”
Part 3: With burgeoning staff, California Watch comes to life
As reporters and editors began to arrive from around the country in August 2009, we had the energy, and the chaos, of a startup.
Part 2: Diving into the world of fundraising brings many lessons
The Center for Investigative Reporting was poised to undergo a dramatic relaunch in the spring of 2008, taking us fully into the age of the Internet and beyond, but if you visited our humble Berkeley office, it would have been impossible to imagine the changes ahead.
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Part 1: Sustaining investigative journalism means finding a new model
I’m not sure I would have become the executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting in January 2008 if I had really understood the challenges ahead of me and had thought them out carefully; I had no idea what I was getting into.
The enduring ambition of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project
‘What I didn’t know going in was how inspired I’d feel by hearing these journalists share fragments from their work that spoke to why telling these stories mattered to them — and should matter to all of us.’
Animating the future of investigative reporting
The use of animation to tell an investigative story is something that is relatively new here at CIR.
A young journalist witnesses history with Pentagon Papers
Robert Rosenthal on his experiences on the periphery to one of journalism’s most important moments.
Unusual partnership helps bring justice for Chauncey Bailey
From the beginning the Chauncey Bailey Project wanted to send the message that when a journalist is killed because of their work, other journalists will step forward and make sure there is accountability.
Investigating seismic safety before there are victims
Investigative reporting is difficult work. It takes unique skills. You don't just say to a reporter find out what's wrong here. It takes sources, digging and time to peel back the layers around a systematic failure. It also takes a certain type of bull-headed, persistent reporter. It takes luck, support and many other ingredients, some obvious, some secret to the sauce. And it takes the skills to tell the story so that it is accessible, understandable, fact-based and fair.
Lots of activity in our bubbling, journalistic petri dish
Robert Rosenthal talks about California Watch’s new hires.