July 8, 2009
SEATTLE – InvestigateWest launches today to provide high-quality investigative journalism about environmental, health and social justice issues across the West.
InvestigateWest is a nonprofit investigative journalism studio that will distribute its work online, in print and on radio and TV stations. InvestigateWest will distribute its multimedia content through individual partnerships with media organizations and through its own syndicated service.
“InvestigateWest is a new model of public service journalism that seeks to fill the void rapidly developing in investigative coverage,” InvestigateWest Executive Director and Editor Rita Hibbard said. “Our goal is to produce journalism that empowers citizens and changes institutions. We will measure our success by the impact of our stories.”
Hibbard noted the recent closure of four daily Western newspapers in Seattle, Denver, Tucson and Albuquerque, and the loss of thousands of other jobs at remaining news organizations. “It’s a time of great challenge in the news industry,” she said. “But it’s also a time to be creative and try new approaches.”
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) to conduct journalism for the public trust, InvestigateWest last week became a founding member of the nonprofit Investigative News Network aligning more than 25 investigative news organizations. Funding strategies, news distribution and administrative costs could be pooled among partners like the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and newer ventures such as the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison.
InvestigateWest has received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, in-kind contributions from major firms, including the K&L Gates law firm and Point B Solutions Group in Seattle, and donations from individual donors, and is actively fundraising from individuals and foundations. Our journalists are already reporting a number of stories for which we are developing media partnerships and seeking funding. Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation can send donations to InvestigateWest at 600 N. 36th St., Suite 316, Seattle, WA, 98103.
InvestigateWest adheres to the high standards of objectivity and accuracy that have always informed the Fourth Estate: integrity, fairness and an independent quest for truth.
“Across the country, there has been a decline in newsroom staff and resources for investigative reporting,” said Brant Houston, an InvestigateWest advisory board member and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois. “InvestigateWest can help fill that growing gap of in-depth public service journalism. Endeavors like this are critical to the functioning of a democratic society.”
“The news ecology is fragmenting, and the first thing that seems to be going in organizations is to spend money, time and thinking power on the issues that are really important to the communities they serve,” said Vikki Porter, an InvestigateWest advisory board member and director of the Knight Digital Media Center. “New models are needed to keep the spirit of watchdog journalism alive. Despite what’s happening in the industry as a whole and in the profession as a whole, this is the perfect time for this kind of venture.”
InvestigateWest staffers have won or been finalists for every significant national journalism award for investigative and narrative work, including the Pulitzer Prize, the White House Correspondents’ Association Edgar A. Poe Award, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, Best of the West and the PEN literary award.
In addition to its core group of six journalists, InvestigateWest is establishing a network of correspondents throughout the West. These freelancers will serve as listening posts as well as producers of innovative, insightful journalism. In addition, a panel of nationally distinguished journalists has agreed to serve on the venture’s advisory board. InvestigateWest has also begun an internship program this summer with two Western Washington University journalism students.
Westerners have always relied on a rich tradition of storytelling. At InvestigateWest, we plan to tell the story of the West for the 21st century.