1st Edition

The Rise of NonProfit Investigative Journalism in the United States

By Bill Birnbauer Copyright 2019
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    With a foreword from Michael Schudson, The Rise of Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in the United States examines the rapid growth, impact and sustainability of not-for-profit investigative reporting and its impact on US democracy and mainstream journalism.

    The book addresses key questions about the sustainability of foundation funding, the agendas of foundations, and the ethical issues that arise from philanthropically funded journalism. It provides a theoretical framework that enables readers to recognize connections and relationships that the nonprofit accountability journalism sector has with the economic, political and mainstream media fields in the United States.

    As battered news media struggled to survive the financial crisis of 2007-2009, dozens of investigative and public service reporting startups funded by foundations, billionaires and everyday citizens were launched to scrutinize local, state and national issues. Foundations, donors and many journalists believed there was a crisis for investigative journalism and democracy in the United States. This book challenges this and argues that legacy editors acted to quarantine their investigative teams from newsroom cuts. It also demonstrates how nonprofit journalism transformed aspects of journalistic practice. Through detailed research and practical discussion, it provides a comprehensive study of this increasingly important genre of journalism.

    The Rise of Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in the United States is an important text for academics and students of journalism, communications theory, media and democracy-related units, as well as journalists worldwide.

    Foreword (Michael Schudson)

    Chapter 1. Introduction: the changing face of watchdog journalism

    Chapter 2. New collaborations: a mutual benefit

    Chapter 3. Crashing through the firewall

    Chapter 4. Saving journalism and democracy during the financial crisis

    Chapter 5. Funding nonprofit accountability journalism

    Chapter 6. Secondary factors promoting the creation of nonprofit accountability news centers

    Chapter 7. Case studies of four national nonprofit investigative reporting centers

    Chapter 8. On the ground with smaller nonprofit news organizations

    Chapter 9. Ethical issues in foundation funding of journalism

    Chapter 10. Flash in the pan or a sustainable business model?


    Bill Birnbauer is an award-winning journalist and academic. He is a long-standing member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Monash University, Australia. He was a metropolitan newspaper reporter and editor for three decades, has coproduced documentaries for public television and has written academic book chapters and journal articles as well as two other books.


    'Birnbauer’s [book] belongs on the shelf for anyone who wants to study and understand the nonprofit --phenomenon' --Rick Edmonds, media business analyst

    'Birnbauer shines his own investigative light on one of the more important developments in the production of investigative reporting – foundation-supported, non-profit news outlets. He appropriately outlines the symbiotic relationship between legacy media and non-profit outlets. But he doesn’t pull punches, raising legitimate concerns about the independence of foundation-sponsored investigative journalism.' --James Aucoin, University of South Alabama, USA

    'Birnbauer’s book, which draws from a deep dive into previous research about nonprofit journalism, as well as case studies of the Center for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica, Mother Jones, and Center for Public Integrity, overflows with valuable—and often surprising—information about news nonprofits. Birnbauer’s book does not function so much as a typical, argument-driven text as it does a de facto encyclopedia for all things related to nonprofit journalism.' --Jacob L Nelson, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, from Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

    'Michael Schudson describes this book as a ‘gift’ to journalism studies. I agree. It will inform the international debate about philanthropic journalism into the future. Bravo!' --Penny O’Donnell, University of Sydney, from Australian Journalism Review