Center for 'Public Integrity' Absorbs the 'Huff-Po Investigative Fund'

The Center for Public Integrity boasts of itself as a "nonpartisan" journalism outfit -- while at the very same time it is absorbing something called the "Huffington Post Investigative Fund," which isn't a brand-name for nonpartisanship. It's a brand name that says trendy-left combo of a little political reporting, some celebrity blogging, celebrity nude/almost-nude photos -- and currently, election-eve Jon Stewart bus-mongering. Keach Hagey of Politico reports that the CPI's board recently approved plans to make the Center's website a revenue-generating high-traffic website (no word if that means sleazy photos of Miley Cyrus or "Glee" stars):

The new strategy, unanimously approved by the Center’s board last Friday, will seek to make the Center’s website a high-traffic destination that can generate revenue through underwriting (nonprofit speak for ads) and membership (nonprofit speak for subscriptions). Until now, the Center has focused on partnering with other media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and POLITICO, to get its stories to the wider public.

“As the news industry contracts, readers have stated clearly that they still want serious, nonpartisan public-interest journalism,” said Bill Buzenberg, the Center’s executive director, in a statement. “And the nonprofit funding world wants to see new business strategies that take philanthropic capital and grow it through earned revenue. Our plan is to deliver both. We expect this new direction will ensure that, one day, every dollar donated by one of our generous supporters can produce $2 worth of journalism.”

Hagey was brave. She didn cough or even clear her throat in print as she went from Buzenberg's "nonpartisan" claptrap (the same kind he spewed when he was an NPR executive). She just tied the news together, as they also draw inspiration from NPR:

The move comes a little more than a week after the center announced that it would be absorbing the nonprofit Huffington Post Investigative Fund, along with $2 million that the fund had lined up to run it for the next year. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a funder of both organizations, agreed to kick in another $250,000 to help seal the deal, which would move six Fund reporters over to the Center and create one of the country’s largest investigative newsrooms in the process. [They claim it'll be more than 50 employees.]

“Arianna Huffington was looking for a place for the Investigative Fund,” Buzenberg told POLITICO. “She felt it needed a new place to be. She wanted to get out of the investigative journalism business.”

Several months ago, Huffington approached the Center, and the Center shared its new business plan with her, which made her “very interested,” he said.

“It jump-started what we were doing,” Buzenberg said. “It was very fortuitous, and comes at the time that we are planning all of this change.”

Huffington will join the Center’s board, while the Fund’s board, which she chaired, will dissolve, she said.

“I’ve had long discussions with the Center about how to diversify revenue streams,” Huffington told POLITICO. “Advertising as well as memberships — à la public radio — make a lot of sense as ways of reducing reliance on grants and contributions from individuals, of course.”

Under the new arrangement, which will go into effect Jan. 1, all assets of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund will go to the Center, while the Huffington Post website will agree to run up to three of the Center’s stories each day.

That doesn't inspire the thought that CPI's gumshoes will be utterly "nonpartisan."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis