Who will pay for serious, investigative journalism? Some of the biggest minds in the field are wrestling with that question, which becomes more urgent as traditional newspaper newsrooms continue to shrink. But there are other sources of money, and many of these groups don’t require a writer to make ethical compromises.
Loretta Tofani already had a Pulitzer Prize and a distinguished career reporting at home and abroad. She also had an idea — many goods sold to American consumers were produced in China under conditions that damaged and sometimes killed the workers who made them.
I was fortunate about a year ago to have the opportunity to talk to Loretta when she was starting this work. I encouraged her to seek grant money and I gave what editorial advice I had to offer.
The Center For Investigative Reporting came through. Executives there supported Loretta with money from the center’s Dick Goldensohn Fund. More money came from the Pulitzer Center For Crisis Reporting.
One writer with a powerful idea, several organizations with guidance and money, and one serious work of investigative journalism. It’s a formula that can be repeated. One sign of success came recently with word that the Tofani series is a finalist for the $25,000 Goldsmith Prize.
Loretta was kind enough to remember me when she learned of her nomination:
Carl, I keep thinking about you and the chance you took on my proposed series. I want to say a big thank you! The series was published in The Salt Lake Tribune (http://extras.sltrib.com/china/) and was just named a finalist for the Goldsmith investigative reporting award. (I guess you heard about the failure to get it into the Inquirer.) Thank you ever so much! You were right about new ways to do journalism. Too bad not everyone had as much vision as you! Loretta
Loretta, I am delighted that there are many, many people in newsrooms who do have vision and courage. Our business can thrive — but we will succeed only as we become willing to invent and embrace the new ways. Thanks for a persuasive example.