If rhetoric is a necessary precondition to action, the investigative journalists of American can now move to step two.
The Pocantico Declaration: Creating a Nonprofit Investigative News Network was issued Wednesday afternoon at the conclusion of a three-day conference of not-for-profit news organizations at the Pocantico Conference Center in New York. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a participant, says the declaration "marks a vital step in harnessing the energy of new journalism initiatives across the country to give Americans the watchdog reporting that is essential if our democracy is to thrive."
The declaration recognizes the times are dire and the need great, and therefore "preparations should be immediately made to form a collaboration, the Investigative News Network (working title). Its mission is very simple: to aid and abet, in every conceivable way, individually and collectively, the work and public reach of its member news organizations, including, to the fullest extent possible, their administrative, editorial and financial wellbeing. And, more broadly, to foster the highest quality investigative journalism, and to hold those in power accountable, at the local, national and international levels."
The emphasis is that of the declaration.
A large steering committee has been formed. It consists of leaders of these organizations: the Center for Public Integrity, the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, the Pacific News Service, the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the local online news sites St. Louis Beacon, MinnPost, and voiceofsandiego.org. Brant Houston, professor of investigative reporting at the University of Illinois, is a steering committee member.
Its first order of business is to "seek and obtain sufficient grant funding to develop a plan for sustaining and strengthening nonprofit investigative journalism."
There is not yet a plan, nor money to create a plan, but there is an expression of intent and a framework. The to-do list includes creation of an Investigative News Network Web site.Here's some interesting background on the Pocantico conference.