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ProPublica: The best and the brightest come-up with the worst and dumbest idea to save journalism yet 2/13/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in ProPublica.

The Old Media elites are swooning over a new organization called ProPublica. Billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler, who are major Democrat political donors and critics of President Bush, have set-up a non-profit called ProPublica that will provide “investigative journalism” to mainstream outlets at no cost. You see, if newspapers had the funding to do the great journalism they once did, all of their business problems would go away.

Wait, there’s more. It will be run by former Wall Street Journal (WSJ) top editor Paul Steiger, a man whose business acumen Rupert Murdoch found remarkably expendable in his WSJ acquisition, and whose recent keen analysis of newspapers’ problems somehow overlooked the well-documented loss of public trust in their veracity and objectivity. Not to worry. ProPublica has placed on its Board celebrated intellectuals from Harvard, the Knight Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts — plus a token Republican (albeit “in name only”), former Congressman James Leach, who is so enlightened that he compiled an anti-war and pro-global government voting record that puts him well to the left of most Democrats. Oh, did I mention the new journalism advisory board that includes NY Times managing editor Jill Abramson and consummate DC insider David Gergen?

Since I don’t travel in such fabulous circles, please forgive me if I sound impertinent. But aren’t these exactly the same people who are responsible for newspapers’ declining fortunes in the first place? And, isn’t this the same formula that is no longer working? Isn’t this the same monolithic, center-left crowd that continues to deny that the mainstream media are biased, despite the claims of a landslide two-thirds of Americans? Can’t we predict with absolute certainty that in the run-up to the election, ProPublica might as well be called AntiRepublican — that its so-called nonpartisan investigations will remarkably avoid Democrats, while delivering precise, last minute hits on Republicans, as we have come to expect from mainstream media? You know, like the 1992 Bush I-sinking, weekend-before-the-election leak of the Iran-Contra indictment of Caspar Weinberger, the 2000 nearly Bush II-sinking, weekend-before-the-election exposure of a 24-year-old drunk-driving arrest, and the 2004 Dan Rather-sinking misfire involving forged documents.

These may be America’s best and brightest, but their wisdom is no match for Americans collectively — who, thanks to New Media, will no longer be anybody’s fool.


1. Right Angles » Blog Archive » Blind leading the blind - 2/14/08

[…] journalism that this lash up will produce. But will it help? Not according to one astute observer: But aren’t these exactly the same people who are responsible for newspapers’ declining […]

2. Window on the Media » Spot.us : Une nouvelle dimension du journalisme participatif - 5/16/08

[…] Spot.us reprend une partie du concept des ProPublica, un projet de journalisme d’investigation financé par des fondations. A ceci près que le journalisme financé par les boîtes du Dow Jones, ça n’inspire pas franchement confiance. […]

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