Many corporate media outlets have cut staff right and left and have fallen behind the curve, especially when it comes to investigating reporting. For instance, many of the scandals that engulfed the Bush administration, such as Abramoff, Downing Street, Blackwater, Cheneygate, and others were discovered not by mainstream media outlets, but by bloggers. The site Pro Publica has emerged to fill a need for investigative reporting. They do their own work as well as work in collaboration with mainstream media outlets across the country. Salon, for instance, runs a whole section of Pro Publica stories here.
Among their top stories are as follows:
How the NRA is standing aside as states are making it a felony to enforce federal gun laws; the NRA in the past has called on the government to enforce laws on the books.
Pay to Prescribe:
A scandal involving 24 doctors who were allegedly paid to prescribe Novartis.
How the banks' repeated thwarting of Dodd-Frank regulations and criminal penalties is spurring a bipartisan backlash.
How a prosecutor who wrongly send an innocent man to jail himself faces 10 years behind bars.
Murdoch Scandal Growing:
More revelations are about to hit the fan. This article maps all the players, tells the facts, and names the names.
Governor Sam Brownback flouts Federal gun laws.
A battle that was fought and lost in the 1860's.
To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.Key Personnel:
ProPublica was founded by Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. It is now led by Stephen Engelberg, a former managing editor of The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon and former investigative editor of The New York Times, and Richard Tofel, the former assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal.Board of Directors:
Paul Steiger, Executive Chairman
Herbert Sandler, Founding Chairman
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
You can read an extensive biography of each of these board members here.
We searched several different sites that combat various forms of hate and bigotry. We searched ADL, Algemeiner, Immigration Impact, Southern Poverty Law Center, Imagine 2050, Loonwatch, and Truth Wins Out. We turned up nothing. Next, we searched Google using the term "Pro Publica Racist" in order to see if there were any allegations of racism or other forms of bigotry. We turned up nothing there either. However, we did turn up this interesting story about how a Pro Publica employee got a racist employee fired from Papa John's.
The Papa John's employee dubbed the Pro Publica employee, Minhee Cho, who is Asian, "lady chinky eyes" on the ticket. The ensuing uproar got the Papa John's employee in question fired.
The University of Phoenix, one of the largest online degree institutions in the country, posts the following hit piece from Cheryl Chumley of Foundation Watch:
The press is fi lled with sad stories about venerable for-profi t newspapers that have been forced to declare bankruptcy and shut down. So it’s striking that the billionaire liberals Herb and Marion Sandler have decided now is the time to fund a new nonprofi t group called ProPublica whose mission is to serve the public interest by funding independent investigative journalism. Too bad Pro Publica churns out little more than left-wing hit pieces about Sarah Palin and blames the U.S. government for giving out too little foreign aid.The article then goes on to tie the Sandlers in with the subprime mortgage scandal, associates them with George Soros. Then, it goes on to quote a Slate piece:
Question: What’s a liberal to do? With the burgeoning popularity of Fox News, the Drudge Report website, the dominance of conservatives on talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin et al) and the rising tide of conservative political bloggers, it’s no wonder old-line left-liberal journalists are growing anxious about promoting their message to the media. As daily newspaper circulation plummets and the audience of ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN ages and shrinks, liberals are watching their authority fade. They can no longer set the public agenda without being challenged by conservative media voices.
Answer: Create a media outlet that will produce left-wing “investigative” hit pieces that can be given to cash-strapped newspapers at no cost.
In October 2007 Slate magazine’s Jack Shafer wrote a report on the Sandlers’ political contributions and theorized that the decision by the husband-wife team to fund ProPublica signaled an attempt to use their money and influence “to return us to the days of the partisan press.”The article then goes on to take Pro Publica to task for defending ACORN, attacking Sarah Palin, not covering Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, failing to report on Obama's appointees to office, and following what she says is a double standard when it comes to reporting the news.
The duo has spent “millions on politics,” Shafer wrote “The Federal Election Commission database shows the two of them giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party campaigns. In 2004, Herbert Sandler gave the MoveOn.org Voter Fund $2.5 million … The Center for Responsive Politics Web site reports donations of $8.5 million from Herbert and Marion to the 527 group Citizens for a Strong Senate in the 2004 cycle. CSS was formed by a group of strategists with close ties to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.”
As Slate’s Shafer posits in his expose of the Sandlers: “If I were a newspaper editor considering ProPublica copy for a future issue, the fi rst thing I’d want is proof of the firewall preventing the Sandlers and other funders from picking – or nixing – the targets of its probes … [and] I’d call upon Herbert Sandler … to provide ProPublica with 10 years of funding, $100 million, and then resign from his post as the organization’s chairman so he’ll never be tempted to bollix up what might turn out to be a good thing.”
Article on Prescriptions for Pay:
Disclaimer -- this website links to ALEC, so take that into your considerations.
The rebuttal claims that Pro Publica has a vested interest in attacking the branded pharmecutical industry, citing funding from the Prescription Project (Pew). It then goes on to cite what they say are excessive salaries for the CEO and managing editor ($500,000 a year). It then goes on to say:
More importantly, a close look at the donations supporting ProPublica’s non-profit status reveals that the Pew Charities, who fund the anti-industry Prescription Project, donated $1 million to ProPublica (over 10% of their annual budget). Is Prescription Project an “independent” source of investigative journalism? On ProPublica’s “About Us” page, they assert that they will not “ally with politicians or advocacy groups.” Is taking money from them an exception?It then accuses ProPublica of taking a bribe; it says that they never showed any interest in targeting the branded Pharm industry until 2010 until:
Digging into ProPublica’s short journalistic history reveals that the non-profit never carried out any major investigation related to any sort of industry-physician payments prior to the Pew Donation of $1 million in 2010. Readers may ask themselves is this a coincidence or conflict?This is a long article, but the gist of it alleges that PP's article is one-sided and completely unfair to the branded pharm industry.
The FTC threw a long hissy fit at Pro Publica, who reported that a lone graduate student had scooped them in determining that Google had circumvented privacy settings on iPhones and placed tracking cookies on them. There was a long email exchange that you can read about in the link above, but PP stood by its story. The story covered much more than that and tried to detail what the FTC had done right as well. The FTC felt that Pro Publica's coverage had been overly negative and had not reported enough on the positive things they had done.
Dave Kopel, a policy analyst for the libertarian Cato Institute and a former columnist for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, criticized a ProPublica report on hydraulic fracturing as a "one-sided series of facts arrayed to support a point of view". He argued that a common theme in ProPublica's work is that "the government is not doing a good enough job in controlling things, particularly things involving big business". ProPublica later responded to his article, countering those claims and saying quote, "using carefully culled quotations and selected statistics, Kopel asserts 'indisputably false facts' in ProPublica's reporting."