The Huffington Post turns to investigative reporting

NEW YORK -- The Huffington Post blog is to invest $1.75m in an investigative reporting fund initially to cover the nation's economy.

Read Gordon's Republic blog post - Huffington Post grows up, but questions about content scrapping remain

The site is collaborating with the Atlantic Philanthropies and other donors to launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.

According to Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, the $1.75m budget should be enough for 10 staff journalists who will coordinate stories with freelancers.

Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or website to use at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post, she said.

The Huffington Post website is a collection of opinionated blog entries and breaking news. It has seven staff reporters.

"Everyone who recognises the role good journalism plays in our democracy is looking for ways to preserve it during this time of great transition for the media. The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is one of the ways we are addressing that need, while also providing work and a platform for seasoned journalists downsized by major media outlets," Huffington said.

The launch of the fund was partly in response to the job cuts and closures at US newspapers, she added, with fears that they were hurting investigative journalism at a time when the nation's institutions need to be watched closely.

The venture has been compared to the non-profit independent newsroom, ProPublica, which is funded by The Sandler Foundation. With a budget of $10m, ProPublica is headed by Paul Steiger, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.

News of the investigative reporting investment follows the securing by Huffington Post of $25m in new funding in December, with plans to rollout local versions of the site.

Kenneth Lerer, co-founder and chairman of The Huffington Post, added: "There is no more critical reporting than investigative journalism. This non-profit investigative journalism venture is a very important and logical next step for The Huffington Post. Our mission will be to produce and distribute distinguished, independent journalism made widely available to all news outlets."

The fund will be headquartered in Washington DC, and produce a broad range of investigative journalism from long-term investigations to short breaking news stories. They will run as text, audio and video.

Jay Rosen, associate professor of journalism at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, will serve as a senior advisor to the project. Rosen, as a director of NewAssignment.Net, his research project at NYU, previously collaborated with The Huffington Post on OffTheBus -- an experiment in citizen journalism that drew 12,000 contributors and gained widespread media attention for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

"In addition to collaborating on OffTheBus, I've been writing for years about this possibility - distributed reporting projects that efficiently coordinate the efforts of volunteers, data-combing efforts that are open source, as well as teams of pros and amateurs working together -- and I think The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is the next logical step."