Twenty-five American nonprofit news organisations have decided to come together to form an Investigative News Network, following a three-day conference at the Pocantico Conference Center in New York. Its mission is to aid the work and public reach of its members, and to foster the "highest quality investigative journalism" to hold those in power accountable.
The Pocantico Declaration anticipates an increase in the number of investigative news publishers, and hence seeks to establish "basic shared goals and news values." It identifies several different forms of potential collaboration. Firstly, editorial: meaning that nonprofits could carry out joint accountability projects. Secondly, administrative: organisations could exchange information about organisational functions and even possibly centralise some of these. Thirdly, financial, which could consist either of just sharing information and jointly fundraising, or even of "pioneering new economic models to help to monetize the shared, combined content of the member organizations, in order to achieve a more sustainable journalism.
A 'Steering Committee' has been formed to oversee the new venture until a new nonprofit corporation may be formed with its own Board of Directors. consisting of eleven members, including those from centres such as the Center for Public Integrity and the Centre for Investigative reporting and publications such as VoiceofSanDiego and MinnPost. This committee will immediately start fundraising work for a planning grant and a possible grant for editorial project collaboration, and will start to foster administrative efficiencies.
It will also create a website for the Investigative News Network, that will "take full advantage of other emerging technologies to coordinate, curate and showcase the best content of the Network member publishers and its growing, searchable "long tail" archive." Additionally, the committee will put forward recommendations about the Network's news standards and practices, and will define issues such as the criteria for Network membership.
As newsrooms make cutbacks due to financial hardship, fears have grown about the amount and standards of investigative journalism across the US, prompting the establishment of outlets dedicated to just this, such as ProPublica, or specific foundations within a larger publication such as the Huffington Post's Investigative Fund. The Knight Foundation recently announced a total of $15 million of grants to help develop new economic models for investigative reporting on digital platforms. This new Network should help to ensure that investigative journalism can continue to play its vital role of watchdog, arguably essential to a democratic society.
Source: WatchdogsAtPocantico, Pulitzer Center