Investigative Fund

/ 1 April 2009

And so it begins. Just a couple weeks ago I was telling my brother that I thought a new model of journalism was emerging. It is a model I’ve been anticipating since Max Headroom. Essentially an independent investigative reporter with some kind of funding mechanism that allows her or his audience to help pay the freight for the investigations.

That’s not quite what emerged this week, but the Huffington Post took a step toward this future by creating a new Investigative Fund as a separate organization.

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This model is not quite the independent reporter. Here we have a staff of editors being funded by an initial $1.75 million.

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

But these reporters will not be producing news for any single outlet. Instead, the content they create will be open for anyone to run.

The pieces developed by the Fund will range from long-form investigations to short breaking news stories and will be presented in a variety of media, including text, audio and video. And, in the open source spirit of the Web, all of the content the Fund produces will be free for anyone to publish.

This sounds like an important experiment. I still feel the model is not quite as radical as we will see in the future. But it does represent the further unravelling of journalism as we have funded it to date.

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