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  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism




  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    by Robert J. Rosenthal,

    Executive Director

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism


    Copyright 2011 by the Center for Investigative Reporting

    All rights reserved

    Cover: Vjom (

    ISBN: 978-1-61452-015-3

    Produced by Byliner Inc.

    San Francisco, California

    For press inquiries, please contact [email protected]

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism


    In the spirit o journalistic transparency, Reinventing Journalism is

    Robert J. Rosenthals account o assuming leadership o the Center or

    Investigative Reporting and launching Caliornia Watch, its statewide

    reporting team. This report was written at the request o the John S. and

    James L. Knight Foundation with the aim o helping ellow journalismorganizations, particularly nonprot startups, learn rom CIRs experiences.

    Acknowledgements:Support or this report was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight

    Foundation. Christa Scharenberg, Narda Zacchino and Mark Katches

    provided invaluable eedback and editing support. Thanks to Nikki Frick or

    copy editing and Kate Jessup or organizing the sidebars and or her research.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism





    Means Findinga New ModelIm not sure I would have become

    the executive director o the Center

    or Investigative Reporting in January

    2008 i I had really understood the

    challenges ahead o me and had

    thought them out careully; I had no

    idea what I was getting into.

    When CIR approached me, I was 59

    and unemployed. For the second time

    in six years, I had let, or been asked

    to leave, high-level editing positions

    at large metropolitan newspapers.

    Most recently, I had been managing

    editor at the San Francisco Chronicle;

    beore that, I was editor o The Phil-

    adelphia Inquirer. Nearly 40 years

    working in newsrooms let me with

    solid core competencies. I knew agood story, I was passionate and I got

    great personal reward rom enabling

    talented journalists do what they do

    best. But many o these skills were not

    very useul outside a newsroom.

    I could also look back, knowing that

    I had been privileged to be involved

    with great journalists and important

    journalism. As a 22-year-old, I was an

    editorial assistant at The New York

    Times and was assigned to work onthe Pentagon Papers team. At 25, as a

    reporter at The Boston Globe, I was

    part o a newspaper-wide eort that

    won the Pulitzer Prize gold medal or

    public service.

    I later moved to the Inquirer, where I

    was a reporter and editor during that

    newspapers golden age. It was a de-

    manding culture in which reporters

    were encouraged to be ambitious and

    take risks. We also believed we could

    produce the best journalism in the

    country. It was a supportive system

    driven by stories, especially those

    that could make a dierence. And it

    was un.

    The newsroom cultures o that eranurtured young, talented journalists.

    So many o them had worked their

    way up rom copyboy or clerk jobs,

    through a system that rewarded hard

    work and talent. It was an environ-

    ment where young journalists were

    taught by some o the most skilled

    and experienced men and women

    in the business. The best editors gave

    reporters room to fourish, guiding

    and teaching along the way, and they

    held us to rigorous standards.

    I learned that the best editors, and the

    best newsrooms, cleared the way or

    you to succeed while lending all the

    support needed. This was vividly con-

    veyed by one o my most infuential

    and powerul mentors, Gene Roberts,

    then the editor o the Inquirer. He had

    just told me he was going to name

    me oreign editor, my rst editing

    job. I asked him, What do the best

    editors do?Well, he drawled, they are like a

    blocking back in ootball. They go

    through the line, knock somebody

    down, clear the way, and lie in the

    mud so the guy with the ball can step

    on their back and score.

    The image has stuck with me. The

    most successul editors put their bets

    on people who can deliver or them.

    When a reporter proved he or she

    could produce a great story, the re-ward was to get to do the next one.

    There was an adrenaline-lled ur-

    gency that made newsrooms crackle.

    Those stas rarely worried about

    who was nancially sustaining the

    work. And they never imagined that

    it might end.

    At the Inquirer and the Chronicle, I

    believed that I could make a dier-

    ence in these newsrooms that, like

    many others, were beginning an un-

    precedented struggle or survival. But

    I was deeply rustrated by a lack o

    vision, ambition and passion on the

    business side that was throttling cre-

    ativity and undermining the crucial

    role that journalism, and especially

    investigative reporting, play in ourdemocracy.

    As an editor, the priority was on con-

    tent not prot. That was the respon-

    sibility o the business side. I never

    had to worry about raising a dime.

    Many conversations with publish-

    ers or corporate ocers ocused on

    money. I was never comortable with

    those discussions. Far too oten, these

    conversations were about cutbacks

    aimed not at maintaining prot, butincreasing it at the expense o good


    Once, on a visit to the Miami corpo-

    rate headquarters o Knight Ridder

    (the owner o the Inquirer), I walked

    into an oce to nd two executives

    dancing a jig. I stood there, embar-

    rassed, while they laughed and ex-

    plained that the share price had hit a

    new high that day. They were about

    to cash in some stock options.That scene stuck with me and was a

    crude reminder o the disconnect in

    values between journalists and the

    corporate oce. There was nothing

    wrong with prot; those prots had

    supported the work o journalists,

    including cost-intensive investigative

    reporting, or decades. But the de-

    mand or ever-increasing prot was

    the source o the dierence between

    a creative, story-driven culture and a

    numbers culture.

    I relate that story because I see now

    that every deeat and every success

    Ive had, rom the rst day I walked

    into a newsroom in 1969 as a summer

    intern to the day I exited as an editor

    decades later, has inormed my deci-

    sions. These experiences have provid-

    ed the uel to help me transorm and

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    grow CIR and to create Caliornia

    Watch, our successul statewide re-

    porting team.


    Frustrated by the constraints o cor-

    porate media, reporters Lowell Berg-

    man, Dan Noyes and David Weirstarted CIR in 1977. Over three de-

    cades, CIRs ortunes had ebbed and

    fowed. It produced a great deal o

    award-winning work, much o it in

    documentary lms with partners like

    PBS Frontline and 60 Minutes.

    I was aware o CIRs history and had

    worked with the organization on one

    story at the Chronicle, but that was

    the extent o my knowledge. When

    I became executive director, the or-ganization was at risk. The nonprot

    investigative space is driven by values

    that I have always had at my core, but

    its survival is perilous. What I soon

    learned was that those o us who have

    taken on these new entrepreneurial

    and innovative roles in journalism

    must evolve. For me, the evolution

    was into a role I never imagined play-

    ing a publisher.

    Beore I joined CIR, I understood

    that or the uture models o jour-

    nalism to succeed, the money side

    and the creative side would have

    to align. And in CIRs case, that

    alignment had to reside within me.

    CIR had journalistic credibility,

    and its board already had spent two

    years looking or an executive direc-

    tor who had vision and the ability

    to lead. It is the oldest independent,

    nonprot investigative reporting or-

    ganization in the country. But its u-

    ture was unclear. Taking this job was

    a great risk. But it also provided anopportunity to build an organiza-

    tion. I had a clear idea o where to

    go, but getting there was uncharted.

    In the summer o 2007, beore CIR

    approached me, Nieman Reports

    asked me to write a personal essay

    about the uture o journalism. That

    process helped me ocus my thoughts

    about what kind o newsroom I

    hoped to build. I was also just begin-

    ning my work with the Chauncey

    Bailey Project, a collaboration o

    Bay Area journalism outlets. We had

    joined eorts to try to solve the

    murder o slain Oakland Post Editor

    Chauncey Bailey and to continue his

    work. The essay or Nieman Reports

    was published in the 2007 winter edi-

    tion. In it, I wrote:

    I didnt realize that a ew months

    ater I wrote that essay, I would be

    given the opportunity to turn this vi-

    sion into reality. Linked in my mind

    to these cultural values was the idea

    that the new organization would be a

    multi-platorm content creator, either

    through the expertise o its own sta

    or through collaborations with other

    news organizations.

    I used the image o a wheels spokes

    to explain this new model o story-

    telling. At the center o the wheel is

    the story, and each spoke represents

    a dierent platorm most impor-

    tantly, a dierent way o telling the

    story with each platorm comple-

    menting the other. In this way, diverse

    audiences would get the story in the

    platorm or medium they were most

    comortable with.

    The crucial element determin-

    ing success will be the strength

    o emerging relationships among

    those whose money will supportthe journalistic enterprise and those

    who create the product.

    They will need to arrive at a sense

    o shared values and passion about

    what their journalistic enterprise

    is and the value it holds not ex-

    pressed in monetary terms alone. To

    use the term news organization

    does not begin to describe the po-

    tential opportunities I see ahead

    or these new ventures. Publish-

    ing partnerships will be ormedand collaborations among news

    organizations though these might

    look very dierent than we think o

    them today will be crucial.

    Creating these organizations us-

    ing a new DNA will be easier

    than the slow transition we are

    witnessing today with the old

    model organizations. Energy in-

    creases when we become engaged

    in building something new instead

    o eeling demoralized as institu-

    tions we once valued so highly are

    being destroyed by our own canni-


    I have aith that new models o

    journalism are going to fy out o

    this whirlpool o change and besuccessul. Ten years ago, Google

    wasnt even in our vocabulary.

    Ditto Craigslist and Facebook and

    MySpace and YouTube.

    Journalism, as practiced at newspa-

    pers, is not dead. But journalists will

    need to salvage what is essential,

    gure out how to transorm it to

    the new media, and become lead-

    ers in this period o upheaval. It will

    take men and women o vision and

    deep pockets, whose primary cata-

    lyst is not prot.

    As journalists, we live in a time

    o crisis oering the possibil-

    ity o historic change as we wit-

    ness a pillar o our democracy be-

    ing wounded and withering away.

    Great urgency and risk taking is

    called or to stem the collapse o

    what newspapers have stood or

    in our countrys past. We have no

    other choice.

    What I soon learned was

    that those o us who have

    taken on these new entre-

    preneurial and innovative

    roles in journalism must

    evolve. For me, the evolu-

    tion was into a role I never

    imagined playing

    a publisher.
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    This way o working was dierent

    rom how newsrooms traditionally

    were organized. Creating an entity thatcould produce this new kind o story-

    telling, and also explaining it to poten-

    tial unders, was my rst challenge.

    My transormation rom journalist/

    editor to salesman/evangelical en-

    trepreneur began immediately in the

    winter o 2008, within weeks o join-

    ing CIR. I was basically starting rom

    scratch with a sta o seven people

    and a budget around $1.5 million.

    Much o that unding was dedicatedto a documentary lm project. There

    were no major unds in any pipeline.

    The nearly two-year-long search or

    an executive director had been rus-

    trating and disappointing. When I was

    hired, not all o the board members

    supported my vision. The organiza-

    tion or many years had produced a

    small number o high-quality proj-

    ects annually, unding investigations

    individually. Some people thought it

    should remain that way. But the time

    was right or change.


    How do you raise money? I therewas a useul guidebook, I never ound

    it. But what I did have was a passion

    or journalism, a vision, the credibil-

    ity o CIRs 30-year history and sur-

    vival instincts. My rst ocus had to

    be on sustaining CIR. I knew how to

    crat stories and stories were what

    most o the journalism unders were

    comortable nancing. So I began by

    raming pitches around projects.

    I spent several rainy February days inNew York visiting major oundations

    with Christa Scharenberg, our as-

    sociate director, who had been with

    CIR or ve years and had been act-

    ing executive director or the year

    prior to my hiring. I explained the

    multi-platorm approach we want-

    ed to create and talked about a ew

    major projects, including work as-

    sociated with Iraq and Aghanistan,

    human rights, the environment, and

    state coverage o Caliornia. No one jumped out o his or her seat with

    excitement. There were doubts and

    challenging questions about the ne-

    cessity o creating new models out o

    small existing nonprots.

    Then, weeks ater the New York trip,

    we met with the James Irvine Foun-

    dation. The program ocer listened

    patiently to my multi-platorm con-

    cept and to our story ideas, and then

    she asked, Can you do somethingthats ocused on Caliornia? Our

    unding is ocused on Caliornia.

    I was thrilled: A potential major

    under was interested. Covering the

    state, with a clear ocus on investiga-

    tive reporting, did not intimidate me.

    I had been a statehouse reporter and

    ran newsrooms where state and state-

    house coverage were priorities. Cali-

    ornia, in addition, is not only big-

    ger than most countries, but is ertile

    ground or investigative reporting.

    The process o creating what would

    become Caliornia Watch took o

    ater that conversation. A little while

    later, I had my rst meeting with sta

    o the John S. and James L. KnightFoundation. I laid out a similar menu

    and the multi-platorm approach.

    They also responded positively. They

    liked the idea about creating a jour-

    nalistic organization in which using

    technology, engaging the public and

    sustaining the eort were central to

    the mission.

    We were interested in engaging the

    public in reporting, an evolving con-

    cept. We realized that it was worth

    exploring the question readers and

    viewers oten ask ater an investiga-

    tion has been published: What can we

    do now? We wanted to nd a way to

    build that into the journalism, even

    around the sensitive subjects that in-

    vestigative reporting explores.

    How to manage and engage an audi-

    ence was something we would have

    to build into our planning. We want-

    ed to create new strategies to share

    inormation, as well as explore newdistribution models. Social media

    was exploding and oered some new

    pathways or public engagement and

    distribution. The ability o stories and

    video to go viral presented a clear op-

    portunity. We wanted to create com-

    munities o interest around subjects

    and geography. And we wanted to

    involve these communities to gather

    inormation and help nd solutions.

    At the same time that I was ormulat-ing a state concept, ormer San Fran-

    cisco Chronicle sta writer Louis

    Freedberg had gotten seed money

    rom the Irvine Foundation and the

    William and Flora Hewlett Founda-

    tion to develop a similar program.

    Freedberg and I had several talks, and

    while we had diering visions, there

    was reason to share our plans. We both

    knew that unds were limited and that

    My transormation rom

    journalist/editor to


    entrepreneur began

    immediately in the winter

    o 2008, within weeks o

    joining CIR.

    At the center o our reporting and dis-

    tribution model is the story. The spokes

    represent the multi-platorm production

    and distribution.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    it might be pointless to compete, es-

    pecially in increasingly dire economic

    times. We decided that we would

    pursue our plans separately, but leave

    open the possibility o joining orces.

    Around this time, a talented televi-

    sion producer let CIR. Instead o re-

    placing her with another journalist, Idecided to hire someone who could

    help pay the bills. We needed to raise


    Through a riend, I met someone

    with a strong undraising rsum,

    including experience raising money

    or journalism, a rare combination

    given how ew journalism-ocused

    nonprots there were at the time. In

    what proved to be a crucial decision,

    Cherilyn Parsons was hired as a part-

    time development director. It was

    also a key step in my evolution rom

    editor to publisher.

    In my past role as editor o a big

    newsroom, I resented when editorial

    resources were cut while business

    budgets increased. But now, thinking

    more like a publisher than an editor,

    I knew that replacing the departing

    journalist with another reporter was

    not an option. I needed someone

    who understood the world o oun-dations, their nuances and interests,

    and had a sensibility about our jour-

    nalistic mission. With 15 years o ex-

    perience in undraising, much o it

    with journalism nonprots and the

    Annenberg School or Communica-

    tion & Journalism at the University

    o Southern Caliornia, Parsons was

    exactly what we needed.


    In the spring o 2008, reporters on

    the Chauncey Bailey Project were

    stationed in our small oce. News

    organizations throughout the Bay

    Area had teamed up to produce and

    distribute these stories. The success

    o that collaborative project would

    serve as a model or building Cali-

    ornia Watch, which was still in the

    planning stages.


    The Chauncey Bailey Project began under

    the leadership o Dori J. Maynard, presi-

    dent and CEO o the Robert C. Maynard

    Institute or Journalism Education in

    Oakland, and Sandy Close, executive editor

    o New America Media in San Francisco.

    Robert Rosenthal coordinated the

    investigation.The project was unded by the John S. and

    James L. Knight Foundation, the Society

    o Proessional Journalists Sigma Delta

    Chi Foundation, the UC Berkeley Graduate

    School o Journalism, the George Washing-

    ton Williams Fellowship, the National Asso-

    ciation o Black Journalists, The Newspaper

    Guild and The Caliornia Endowment. Tech-

    nical assistance was provided by Investiga-

    tive Reporters and Editors, Inc.


    p Alameda Times-Star Bayp Area Black Journalists Association

    p Center or Investigative Reporting

    p Contra Costa Times

    p East County Times

    p The (Fremont) Argus

    p Hayward Daily Review

    p Investigative Reporters and Editors

    p KGO Radio

    p KGO-TV ABC 7

    p KQED Public Radio

    p KTVU-TV

    p Maynard Institute or Journalism


    p New America Media

    p New Voices in Independent Journalism

    p The Oakland Tribune

    p San Francisco Bay Guardian

    p San Jose Mercury News

    p San Mateo County Times

    p Society o Proessional Journalists

    p Tri-Valley Herald

    p UC Berkeley Graduate School

    o Journalism

    p Valley Times


    Partners o Necessity: The Case or Col-

    laboration in Local Investigative Reporting

    Report by Sandy Rowe, Shorenstein Center

    Knight Fellow and ormer editor, o The


    Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News or a

    Networked World

    2011 policy paperby Michael R. Fancher,

    ormer editor oThe Seattle Times and

    co-convener o Journalism That Matters

    Pacic Northwest

    Inorming Communities: Sustaining

    Democracy in the Digital Age

    Knight Commission Report, 2009


    Chauncey Bailey Project shows impact o

    investigative reporting

    Transcript o speech delivered by Eric New

    ton, senior adviser to the president o the

    Knight Foundation, at the annual conven-

    tion o Investigative Reporters and Editors

    June 11, 2011

    Justice written in ink

    The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, June 18, 201

    Q & A with Martin Reynolds: Oakland Tri-

    bune editor talks about The Chauncey

    Bailey Project

    By Jane Kim, Columbia Journalism Review

    May 14, 2009

    Articles on Editors Killing Made

    a DierenceBy Tim Arango, The New York Times,

    Feb. 22, 2009


    McGill Medal or Journalistic Courage,

    University o Georgia, 2010

    Knight Award or Public Service and

    Investigative Journalism Award in the

    Small Site Category,

    Online News Association, 2009

    Community Service Award, Bay Area

    Black Journalists Association, 2009

    New Media Online Project: News and

    Investigative Reporting, 150,000 +

    circulation, National Association o Black

    Journalists, 2009

    Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award,

    Columbia University Graduate School

    o Journalism, 2009

    Community Service Award, National

    Association o Black Journalists, 2009

    Medium-sized newspapers (100,000 to

    250,000), Investigative Reporters and

    Editors, 2009Best Practices Award,

    National Association o Black Journalists


    Tom Renner Award,

    Investigative Reporters and Editors, 2008

    James Madison Freedom o

    Inormation Award,

    Society o Proessional Journalists North-

    ern Caliornia Chapter, 2008
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    The Bailey Projects model had gained

    a great deal o positive attention. It

    was clear that we had hit the tipping

    point the point at which news or-

    ganizations with disparate skills and

    expertise and shrinking resources

    were better o working together. We

    knew that we were doing great jour-

    nalism, which elt good, but the col-laboration was necessary to keep the

    investigation going; it was producing

    stories that eventually led to convic-

    tions and reorms in the Oakland

    Police Department.

    With the Chauncey Bailey Project, we

    learned that we could control distri-

    bution through as many partner rela-

    tionships as we could manage print,

    television, radio, websites and that

    traditional concerns about exclusivity,even with 15 or 20 organizations in-

    volved, were less relevant i a story was

    strong and compelling. While most

    editors, including me, would have de-

    manded exclusivity in the past, they

    now preerred to be part o something

    big rather than be excluded.

    Every news organization involved in

    the Chauncey Bailey Project had the

    right to post each story on its web-

    site at the same time. What this meantwas that i the embargo time was 10

    p.m., a story went live then across all

    the news organizations. Television

    stations with 10 p.m. broadcasts re-

    ported the story on air then. I their

    broadcast was at 11 p.m., it was live

    on their website earlier and aired on

    TV later. For newspapers, it meant

    web rst, print in the morning. For

    radio, generally, it was websites rst

    and broadcast at drive time in the

    morning. We could time the releaseand coordinate it with many news

    organizations in dierent media. It

    sounds simple today, but in 2008, it

    was innovative. And it worked.

    The Chauncey Bailey Projects sto-

    ries saturated the Bay Area. It was a

    tremendous, positive lesson, not only

    or the project, but or the proession

    o journalism. The project shaped

    where we were about to go next.


    Diving intothe worldo undraising

    brings manylessonsThe Center or Investigative Report-

    ing was poised to undergo a dramatic

    relaunch in the spring o 2008, tak-

    ing us ully into the age o the In-

    ternet and beyond, but i you visited

    our humble Berkeley oce, it would

    have been impossible to imagine thechanges ahead.

    The CIR workplace was in what was

    once the lot o an old horse stable in

    a mixed-use neighborhood near the

    original Berkeley Bowl, a local land-

    mark. With no central heating system,

    it could be brutally hot or cold. The

    sta worked with scarves, ngerless

    gloves and wool caps on cold days and

    in warm, blowing wind generated by

    industrial ans, their cables crisscross-ing the foor, in the warmer months.

    We were a struggling nonprot with

    no rills.

    In the late spring, the sta began to

    pull together the detailed plans or a

    new Caliornia project, a plan to cre-

    ate a statewide investigative reporting

    team covering major issues like educa-

    tion, the environment and health care.

    The job o putting the unding pro-

    posals together ell to Associate Direc-tor Christa Scharenberg and Devel-

    opment Ocer Cherilyn Parsons. As

    CIRs executive director, I did a nal

    edit and review, but their knowledge

    and experience in grant writing and

    oundation interests were invaluable.

    At the same time, we were trying to

    keep CIR alive, unding other po-

    tential projects and managing exist-

    ing editor ial work. We were in two

    simultaneous modes: survival and

    growth. In the mainstream journalism

    world, the gutting o newsrooms was

    accelerating and the global nancial

    markets were beginning to destabilize.

    I had no experience writing a propos-

    al and never had been in a situation in

    which there were multiple potentialunders with dier ing mandates, pro-

    grammatic interests, personalities and

    idiosyncrasies. My experience with

    budgets and planning documents

    had been with publishers and corpo-

    rate executives. When I was editor o

    The Philadelphia Inquirer, the news-

    room had an array o resources that

    seemed limitless compared with

    where I now was.

    And very important, by comparison,

    I was used to dealing with one direct

    unding source, a publisher who ne-

    gotiated with corporate bosses, occa-

    sionally with me in the room. When

    those meetings were over, you knew

    where you stood. Still, as a journal-

    ist, I was never trained or those kinds

    o negotiations. In that world, when

    revenue and prot numbers were

    met, there was relative tranquility. But

    when revenue and prots dropped,

    nothing else mattered but makingor adjusting the nancial goals. That

    environment was lled with anxiety,

    confict, distrust and shortsighted so-

    lutions, all driven by the bottom line.

    Money-driven conversations were

    never comortable or me, but they

    were now the central and most crucial

    element o my role in moving Cali-

    ornia Watch and CIR orward. Un-

    like the newspaper industry, however,

    dealing with oundations was never

    about making a number; it was about

    convincing them that you could lead

    an organization that could make a

    dierence, and, specically, convinc-

    ing them to invest in the Caliornia

    project. A riend told me, You are

    the product. That it rested so heavily

    on me to sell the idea and vision

    to potential unders was unsettling.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    With oundations, I was soon to learn,

    you operated on their cycle and at

    their pace. They have many suitors.

    They have internal dynamics, con-

    ficts and sta changes that can alter

    your organizations lie, or better or

    worse. But as I was reminded again

    and again, the job o oundations is

    to give away money. My job was topresent a strong organization and ar-

    gument or their investments.

    There was a herky-jerky rhythm to

    the various oundation unding cycles

    and board schedules, which let very

    little time or me to do almost any-

    thing else at CIR. Face time with

    unders, which required the mun-

    dane scheduling and conrming o

    many meetings, was as essential as

    understanding the interests o eachoundation. I traveled requently to

    meet with oundation sta members,

    which oten involved three-day cross-

    country trips with as many as ve

    meetings a day. Getting in the door

    was not always easy. The experience

    o Scharenberg and Parsons was cru-

    cial to opening doors. But the meet-

    ings were imperative to developing

    a rapport with very busy program


    I was a novice at this, but every step

    was a new lesson.



    The most eective ace-to-ace meet-

    ings occurred when I was able to con-

    vey our vision and mission and relay

    my personal story as a journalist. Par-

    sons had to be present at many o the

    meetings to coordinate ollow-up and

    drat the proposals. Juggling multiple

    oundation requests and proposals

    meant setting up a rigorous manage-

    ment system or which Scharenberg

    and Parsons had responsibility. They

    had my trust, and they had my back.

    Very important or me, they pushed

    back, asked questions, understood our

    mission and turned that vision into

    clear prose. The Caliornia project

    and CIRs uture were as reliant on

    their skills and persistence as anyones.

    Around this time, in the spring o

    2008, I had my rst one-on-one con-

    versations with philanthropists. The

    rst step is getting in the door. Some-

    times, the door can be opened by

    chance or by contact made throughboard members, riends or acquain-

    tances. Other times, the door never

    opens. There is no real training or

    this. You are selling your wits, person-

    ality, passion and vision; chemistry is


    A riend who had secured unding

    rom George Soros or a business proj-

    ect years ago told me that in meet-

    ing a potential grantee, Soros would

    know in a couple o minutes whether

    he would und you. He said Soros

    made those decisions with his gut.

    Through another riend, I was able

    to meet San Francisco philanthropist

    and billionaire nancier Warren Hell-

    man. When I asked more experienced

    undraisers how I should prepare or

    that meeting, the consensus was be


    I went to Hellmans oce. His clothes

    were rumpled; his shoes were worn

    and comortable-looking. He took ohis sports jacket and, without looking,

    tossed it in a heap on a corner chair.

    Id never met anyone with his wealth,

    and I knew he had the capacity to be

    a nancial game changer or CIR. I

    immediately elt comortable with

    him; I told him about my back-

    ground, we talked sports, and I even-

    tually launched into where I hoped

    to take CIR and the kinds o journal-

    ism we would do. I did not eel likea salesman, though I suppose thats

    what I was.

    Ater a ew minutes o my vision

    talk, Hellman stopped me.

    We have to und the mother, he said.

    The mother? I responded. I had no

    idea what he meant.

    You, he said. You need the support

    around you to do what you can do.

    I did not realize it at the moment, but

    he got the vision. As a businessman

    and entrepreneur, Hellman under-

    stood the concepts I was laying out,

    and he was thinking about how to

    support them, and me.I came out o the meeting with a

    good eeling. I liked Hellman, and he

    wanted to meet again. I had been told

    that developing an individual do-

    nor could be a lengthy process. It was

    about relationship building, and here

    it was in practice.

    Over the next ew months, I met

    with Hellman several times. He said

    he would help and made a $100,000

    git rom his amily oundation. Moreimportant, he oered to host a lun-

    cheon in his oce or potential do-

    nors, some o his riends and anyone

    I wanted to invite. This was a big op-

    portunity. His advice to me was not

    to talk about stories, but about the

    new model.

    On the morning o the luncheon,

    the Hearst Corp. announced that

    it might sell or close the San Fran-

    cisco Chronicle. When I walked intoHellmans boardroom, he walked up

    to me, grabbed my elbow, pulled me

    aside, looked me in the eye and asked,

    Should I buy the Chronicle?

    I told him I didnt think it would be a

    good investment.

    As he got more involved in seeing

    how he could help stabilize San Fran-

    cisco journalism, Hellmans interest in

    CIR waned (though he did continue

    his generous support or two moreyears), and his ocus went to unding

    his own startup project, The Bay Cit-

    izen, a San Francisco online news site.

    I understood his thinking, and I

    greatly appreciated his support. Large

    individual gits are a crucial pillar o

    the sustainability ormula or CIR

    and all successul nonprots. I now

    knew that I could make a positive im-
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    pression on individual philanthropists.

    But I also had learned that building

    these relationships wouldnt always

    translate into support that could pro-

    vide the type o nancial resources

    we needed to reach our vision.

    As the Hellman interlude unolded

    and unraveled, we also were work-ing with many oundations, large and

    small. It is important to have many

    lines out and be ready to evolve and

    adjust your thinking and strategies.

    For example, in initial conversations

    during the spring o 2008, we were

    talking about creating a destination

    website or the Caliornia project.

    We were considering the idea o be-

    ing the go-to site or in-depth Cali-

    ornia news, including our own in-

    vestigations and aggregated content

    rom around the state.

    But at the same time, the Chaunc-

    ey Bailey Project demonstrated the

    strength o collaborative reporting

    and distribution. We had created the

    consistent ability to reach large au-

    diences through many simultaneous

    publishing and broadcast partners. It

    would have been oolish to ignore

    that successul learning experience.

    Through the project which re-vealed a shoddy police investigation

    and led to two murder convictions in

    2011 we saw that large audiences

    could be reached through the multi-

    platorm, multi-partner approach.

    That experience ultimately steered

    us rom the destination website idea.

    The collaborative model, publishing

    through many partners simultane-

    ously, became central to the vision or

    CIR and Caliornia Watch.


    Work with the program ocers and

    consultants with the John S. and

    James L. Knight Foundation and the

    James Irvine Foundation accelerated

    ater the summer o 2008. In the all,

    we received a planning grant rom the

    Irvine Foundation that supported more

    sta, as the Caliornia project became

    the ocus o our growth strategy.

    As the nancial crisis exploded, our

    anxiety mounted, as did pressure on

    newsrooms. Our primary argument

    or the state project had been the

    precipitous decline in the number

    o journalists covering Sacramento.

    By the all o 2008, the number oreporters in Caliornias capital had

    been more than halved in ve years.

    Every news organization in the state

    was undergoing dramatic cuts. And

    when cutting is the ocus, innovation

    is nearly impossible.

    We had to think and act dierently.

    And or me, the Chauncey Bailey

    Project continued to be a guide. Dur-

    ing this time, CIR board members

    were watching. They were not active-

    ly engaged in ormulating a strategy

    or raising money, but they were 100

    percent supportive o the concept

    and our eorts. By the end o 2008,

    though we had proposals under way,

    the uture o CIR and the Caliornia

    project were very uncertain.

    The complexity o our collaborative,

    multi-platorm multimedia model

    was going to be a challenge to cre-

    ate and manage. Adding to the chal-

    lenge was the act that we still had no

    guarantee o unding. But the conver-

    gence o the collapse o legacy media,

    the availability o talented yet rus-

    trated journalists, advances in tech-

    nology and interested unders created


    The underpinning o that opportuni-

    ty was a shared belie that journalists

    and investigative reporting had played

    an important role in our democracy,

    and that role had to evolve and be

    supported going orward.

    The passion that pushed us at CIR

    was also born out o personal convic-

    tions. My ather had started the jour-

    nalism program at The City College

    o New York in the 1930s. He diedat age 95 in the spring o 2008, a ew

    months ater I started at CIR. As I

    went though his les ater his death, I

    ound a yellowed piece o paper with

    two typewritten paragraphs:

    Why should reedom o speech and ree-

    dom o press be allowed? Why should

    government, which is doing what it be-

    lieves to be right, allow itsel to be criti-

    cized? It would not allow opposition

    by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more

    atal things than guns. Why should any

    man be allowed to buy a printing press

    and disseminate pernicious opinions cal-

    culated to embarrass the government?

    -Nikolai Lenin, 1920

    The basis o our governments being the

    opinion o the people, the very frst ob-

    ject should be to keep that right; and were

    it let to me to decide whether we should

    have a government without newspapers,

    or newspapers without a government, I

    should not hesitate a moment to choosethe latter. Thomas Jeerson, 1787

    We were in a dierent world rom

    when those statements were made,

    but the words resonated with me and

    still rang true.

    During this time, ormer San Francis-

    co Chronicle reporter Louis Freed-

    berg was having conversations the

    William and Flora Hewlett Founda-tion regarding his own Caliornia ini-

    tiative, and I had been asked by the

    Irvine Foundation to consider work-

    ing with him. He and I had talked

    about this earlier and now decided to

    work together rather than compete

    or shrinking unds. Funders clearly

    preer collaboration among poten-

    tial grantees another lesson quickly


    The collaborative model,

    publishing through many

    partners simultaneously,

    became central to the vi-

    sion or CIR and Caliornia


  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    The narrative or our proposal was

    taking shape as we honed key prin-

    ciples. To develop and test this model,

    the Caliornia project would:

    p Develop collaboration as a key

    strategy or the news operations o

    the uture

    p Implement multimedia distributionas part o every story and test new

    digital technologies

    p Develop innovative, replicable

    strategies that can generate

    revenue rom multimedia content

    and help sustain operations

    During the last quarter o 2008, we

    submitted the proposals to the Irvine,

    Hewlett and Knight oundations. The

    total original budget or the rst yearo Caliornia Watch was nearly $1.5

    million. That would have covered

    14 positions and a portion o CIRs

    core sta. We had been working very

    closely with program ocers at all o

    the oundations. Each had its own an-

    gle o interest in the project. Irvines

    mission is to expand opportunity or

    the people o Caliornia to participate

    in a vibrant, successul and inclusive

    society. Thus, that oundation saw

    the decline o state reporting as a seri-ous threat. We worked with the edu-

    cation program at Hewlett, which was

    seeking increased coverage o educa-

    tion issues. Knight is the single largest

    under o journalism in the United

    States, with a keen interest in high-

    quality journalism, new technologies

    and community engagement.

    Each o the potential unders knew

    o the others interest in the project,

    and they all conerred about our proj-ect. That allowed us to ensure that the

    three proposals complemented each

    other and provided comprehensive

    and staggered support over the proj-

    ects rst three years.

    By the end o 2008, Irvine had agreed

    to a $1.2 million grant over three years.

    In March 2009, Hewlett matched Ir-

    vine. Freedberg began working with

    us as director o the project, and

    longtime journalist and ormer UC

    Berkeley Graduate School o Journal-

    ism sta member Marcia Parker was

    hired to help with the startup. Knight,

    because o the chaos in the nancial

    markets, deerred a decision until its

    June 2009 board meeting. We decid-

    ed to begin planning to launch the

    project, but not to actually launch itor make urther hires until we knew

    our ull unding commitment.

    Knight was pushing us to be as in-

    novative as possible around distribu-

    tion, engagement and sustainability.

    I agreed with those core strategies,

    though I also believed our ability to

    generate strong stories would be the

    basis o our success and core compe-

    tency. I wanted to establish the proj-

    ects journalistic credibility as quicklyas possible. That meant we needed

    strong editorial leadership. As word

    spread o our good ortune with

    the Irvine and Hewlett oundations,

    journalists began contacting us.

    Mark Katches, a Caliornian who had

    been hired by the Milwaukee Jour-

    nal Sentinel in 2006 to create and run

    an investigative reporting team, and I

    made contact shortly ater the Irvine

    grant was approved. He also sent mea proposal that he had put together

    on his own months beore or an in-

    vestigative reporting project based in

    Sacramento. His thinking, derived

    rom years o reporting and editing

    in Caliornia and Sacramento, mainly

    or The Orange County Register, was

    remarkably similar to ours. He called

    his plan Caliornia Watch and had

    already bought the domain name

    which he later transerred to CIR.

    Our leadership team met with Katch-

    es, and he was a clear choice to run

    the project i we secured unding. In

    June, the Knight Foundation awarded

    CIR a two-year $1.3 million grant

    or Caliornia Watch, bringing the

    total unding or the project to $3.7

    million over three years. Katches was

    hired with a start date o Aug. 1. But

    he began working with us imme-

    diately rom Milwaukee during his

    weekends and evenings to nalize

    stang and budget.


    Katches and Freedberg came rom

    very dierent backgrounds, but they

    shared the belie that there was an op-portunity and need or a new kind o

    journalism organization in Caliornia

    that would serve the interests o the

    states citizens. Each had envisioned

    his own model or how this organiza-

    tion might work.

    Katches, who started his career in the

    Bay Area and also worked in Sacra-

    mento and Southern Caliornia, was

    considered one o the best investiga-

    tive editors in the country. He had a

    strong personality and was extremelyorganized. Although he had a secure

    position in Milwaukee, coming o

    a Pulitzer Prize win or his sta, his

    amily grew tired o the harsh Wis-

    consin winters. He was ready to get

    back to his home state and be part o

    building a new model o journalism.

    Freedberg, an anti-apartheid South

    Arica native, had seen injustice rst-

    hand. He had a long career in Calior-

    nia journalism as well, most recently

    at the Chronicle. He had let that

    newspaper hoping to create a media

    collaborative in Caliornia. He had

    worked in the nonprot journalism

    sector as a young man, including with

    the legendary Sandy Close, executive

    editor o Pacic News Service and its

    ospring the ethnic media collab-

    oratives New Caliornia Media and

    New America Media.

    ... we announced that we

    were hiring six reporters

    and two multimedia

    producers. Nearly 700

    journalists applied.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    In early July, we were ready to start

    hiring. While we had a large amount

    o money, it had to stretch over three

    years. The budget was tight, and we

    needed to maximize it. We were set-

    ting out to cover the largest state in

    the country. Through journalism em-

    ployment websites, we announced

    that we were hiring six reporters andtwo multimedia producers. Nearly

    700 journalists applied. Marcia Parker

    managed the onslaught. As we be-

    gan our early strategy sessions and

    thought about the qualities we were

    seeking in new sta members, there

    was agreement that we would be cre-

    ating a multi-platorm, collaborative

    news organization where everyone

    had to think o himsel or hersel as a

    potential entrepreneur in addition to

    being a journalist.

    In conversations with senior sta, all

    o whom were involved in the inter-

    view process, we stressed the need to

    be clear with applicants that this was a

    ragile, but great, opportunity to build

    something unique. We also empha-

    sized that everyone would be part o

    the evolution o the project, and they

    had to be open to, and comortable

    with, collaboration internally and ex-

    ternally. We also were determined tohire a diverse team.

    The range o applicants was striking,

    rom multiple Pulitzer Prize winners

    rom legacy newspapers to younger

    journalists who had worked only

    or web-based news organizations.

    Katches, who had been on the board

    o Investigative Reporters and Edi-

    tors and involved with its mentoring

    program, also had connections to a

    network o young, talented and am-bitious journalists.

    There was an abundance o new

    multimedia journalists on our list and

    strong computer-assisted reporting

    applicants. We also were looking or

    people who had multiple-platorm

    storytelling skills and were comort-

    able users o social media and new

    technologies. It was clear that many

    journalists were interested in being

    part o building something new. Even

    with our uncertain uture, applicants

    were willing to be part o what we all

    saw as a noble experiment.

    Our new team would need the ability

    to adapt to changes and opportuni-

    ties in technology. I did not want achange-resistant culture wedded to

    past practices. We needed to have a

    fexible and nimble organization. We

    needed to be constantly looking out-

    ward to the audience and our part-

    ners needs.

    Katches came on the scene with the

    authority to shape the editorial team,

    which would be reporting to him. He

    had the experience, credentials and

    reputation to build the unit. In the

    end, we hired the team we had envi-

    sioned: rom veteran Caliornia jour-

    nalists Lance Williams (San Francisco

    Chronicle) and Robert Salladay (Los

    Angeles Times); to younger reporters

    Erica Perez (Milwaukee Journal Sen-

    tinel), Christina Jewett (ProPublica),

    Corey G. Johnson (The Fayetteville

    Observer) and Chase Davis (Des

    Moines Register); to multimedia pro-

    ducers Mark Luckie (10,000 Words)

    and Lisa Picko-White (reelancer);to data analyst Agustin Armendariz

    (The San Diego Union-Tribune).

    In July 2010, Caliornia Watch was

    ound by the American Society o

    News Editors to be one o the most

    diverse online newsrooms in the


    We were poised to take o, but there

    would be bumps and challenges ahead.



    to LieAs reporters and editors began to ar-

    rive rom around the country in Au-

    gust 2009, we had the energy, and the

    chaos, o a startup.

    In all my years as an editor at news-

    papers, I never had been involved in

    a strategy that actually added sta.

    Suddenly, the Center or Investiga-

    tive Reporting was exploding, andso were the challenges and rewards

    o managing growth. As executive

    director, I preerred this scenario,

    but I quickly learned that managing

    growth is as challenging as managing

    cutbacks. Downsizing creates an en-

    vironment o gloom and a sense o

    ailure in newsrooms. It is emotional-

    ly distressing or everyone, and it was

    personally brutal or me. But when

    you are building and more than dou-

    bling your organization, the sudden

    addition o sta creates an exhilarat-

    ing but complicated brew. Issues and

    problems come fying at you rom so

    many directions that decisions have to

    be made quickly using both your gut

    and your head.

    My role during this initial period was

    to instill condence and trust in the

    new team and to somehow make sure

    the culture we were creating was as

    open and fexible as we envisioned.This may sound easy, but I knew how

    unpredictable things could be, as with

    any team, when you actor in person-

    alities and egos.

    While we were hiring and getting the

    new sta in place, Louis Freedberg,

    who was part o the management sta

    o Caliornia Watch, traveled to vari-

    ous parts o the state to discuss our
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    plans with editors and news directors

    and to assess their potential interest in

    our stories. There was plenty o in-

    terest mixed with skepticism about

    how our new model would t in the

    traditional journalism world but no


    Through the Chauncey Bailey Proj-ect, I had gotten to know key lead-

    ers at KQED. The infuential public

    broadcasting radio station in the Bay

    Area has statewide reach, as well as

    strong ties to National Public Radio.

    We approached KQEDs manage-

    ment with an idea: Would they be

    willing to partner and work ull time

    with Caliornia Watch? A proposal

    was made that we split the salary and

    expenses or Michael Montgomery,

    a veteran radio producer who had ahistory o working with both orga-

    nizations. We wanted him to have ull

    access to our investigations. Caliornia

    Watch and KQED would collabora-

    tively make the decisions on which

    stories to pursue.

    We would not impose creative con-

    trol over radio; our reporters and edi-

    tors would work together, and CIR

    would have the opportunity to re-

    view nal scripts to make sure that allo our acts matched and that impor-

    tant interviews conducted or radio

    could be woven into print versions o

    stories. Montgomery would work out

    o both our oce and KQEDs, but

    needed to be in KQEDs studios to

    record his work. (Current newspaper

    covered the collaboration.)

    The partnership with KQED was

    a tremendous opportunity or us to

    consistently work with a highly re-

    spected media partner and reach a

    statewide broadcast audience in the

    millions. (KQED syndicates its Cali-

    ornia Report to every public radio

    station in the state.)

    We also wanted to reach beyond the

    states English-speaking residents.

    We knew we could not develop the

    relationships or stature that Sandy

    Closes New America Media (NAM)

    had with ethnic media. Another les-

    son we were putting into practice was

    not to duplicate something that an-

    other organization already did well.

    And NAM does what it does really

    well. NAMs sta would translate our

    stories, sometimes or a ee, and dis-

    tribute them to their network. Theydont do this or every story, and go-

    ing orward, we can do a better job o

    working with them on reporting. But

    the times weve worked together have

    been successul.

    All o this activity the new deal-

    making, the opportunities and growth

    was like a shot o adrenaline. Our

    small lot was abuzz with energy. It

    was exciting and crowded. Everyone

    could hear each others phone calls;internal communications literally

    meant calling across the room. When

    consultant Marcia Parker pushed

    back her chair rom her desk, she

    hit the chair o our chie undraiser,

    Cherilyn Parsons. The rerigerator

    was overfowing.


    From the beginning, I knew we could

    not create two distinct cultures with-

    in CIR the national reporting desk,

    where we had a ew projects under

    way, and Caliornia Watch though it

    was challenging to integrate the two

    entities. There had to be a symbiosis

    between CIR and our potentially

    ormidable baby.

    What better way to do this than

    through our inaugural Caliornia

    Watch story? G.W. Schulz, a CIR

    sta member, had been working on

    a project on state-level homelandsecurity activities and spending. He

    had gathered extensive inormation

    and data on every state. As a way to

    quickly launch Caliornia Watch, even

    as the new sta was settling in, we

    decided to break out a story ocused

    on Caliornia, looking at waste and

    abuse within the multimillion-dollar

    homeland security grant system. This

    story, which would be pegged to the

    anniversary o Sept. 11, oered a solidroadmap or testing our collaborative

    model. While Schulz could write the

    overall story or the state, he also had

    detailed data or almost any county or

    locality, which oered a great avenue

    or partnering with media outlets

    throughout Caliornia to localize the

    larger investigation.

    Now we had to gure out distri-

    bution. Would editors be open to a

    ready-made, unique 9/11 anniversary

    story? Would they demand exclusiv-

    ity? Would we charge or the story?

    We decided we would establish a ee

    i a newspaper wanted to publish our

    work. I we worked together with

    a news outlet rom inception, we

    would not charge.

    As we began to notiy potential part-

    ners in late August, I thought we



    Caliornia Watch Says Yes to

    Open, Networked Investigative


    PBS MediaShit, Dec. 17, 2009

    Filling the Gap: Caliornia Watch,a new investigative reporting

    venture, is launching a beeed-up

    online operation

    American Journalism Review,

    August/September, 2009

    Caliornia Watchs revenue model:

    Charge news outlets, target donors

    Nieman Journalism Lab, Nov. 17,


    Caliornia Watchs Revenue Model

    The Nonprot Road, Nov. 17, 2009

    Public TV, Radio Stations to In-

    crease Local Investigative Coverage

    as Columbia Report Advised

    Poynter Online, Nov. 12, 2009

    Amid Newsroom Cutbacks Are

    Watchdogs Still Awake? And Can

    Outsiders Fill the Gaps?

    Editor & Publisher, Oct. 29, 2009
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    would be ortunate i we got two to

    our news organizations to sign on.

    Freedberg, Parker, Caliornia Watch

    Editorial Director Mark Katches and

    I divided up news organizations in

    the state on the basis o personal rela-

    tionships. Between us, we knew many

    o those we would call or e-mail. We

    needed distribution. So what i some-one said they would not or could not

    pay? Did distribution trump revenue?

    There was internal disagreement

    about this. Some elt we should es-

    tablish market value. Others elt we

    should try to reach the broadest audi-

    ence possible, which would mean ne-

    gotiating lower prices i news outlets

    balked. We would ask that the story

    be published on websites as well, with

    links back to our site or supporting

    stories or data.

    Several actors helped us succeed in

    this initial distribution challenge. Per-

    sonal relationships mattered. We each

    could get editors to respond to us

    nearly all o the time, and CIR had

    credibility and a positive reputation

    within editing circles or accurate,

    credible reporting. As we all came

    rom traditional news organizations,

    we were sensitive to the needs and is-

    sues o these newsrooms whose edi-tors we were contacting. We wanted

    to make this process as easy as possible

    or our clients. The process was time

    consuming but crucial.

    Freedberg, Katches and I had di-

    ering comort levels with the sales

    pitch. We established a rough pric-

    ing structure that was fexible when

    it came to pushback. The pricing

    was based on circulation o newspa-

    pers and ranged rom $50 to $350 orthe story. (We have since increased

    our ees signicantly.) News web-

    sites would get the story or ree, as

    would other nonprots and KQED.

    With hindsight, the amount o back

    and orth and our anxiety over the

    sales pitch was comical, given the

    relatively small amounts o money we

    were seeking. But it was outside o

    our journalistic comort zone.

    We began making as many calls as we

    could, describing Caliornia Watch

    and CIR to editors. We explained that

    we had a story in which they might

    be interested, describing how it could

    be localized, letting them know that

    we were oering it to others around

    the state, possibly even other media

    in their market, telling them we werecharging (cringe), and describing

    timing and plans or release.

    We had no idea i this would work,

    but it did. Schulzs story ran on the

    ront page o about two dozen news-

    papers, reaching more than 1.8 mil-

    lion subscribers, and on television,radio, news websites and in ethnic

    media outlets throughout the state.

    We produced the print story at three

    dierent lengths and edited custom

    versions or several news organiza-

    tions. In San Francisco, KGO-TV

    produced a 5-minute piece based on

    our reporting and eaturing our re-

    porter; they were even able to con-

    duct a key interview that we were

    unable to get, which helped strength-en the entire investigation.

    The Marin Independent Journal as-

    signed one o its photographers to the

    story and then allowed us to distrib-

    ute those photos to all o our part-

    ners. Through our partnership with

    New America Media, the story was

    translated and distributed in Chinese,

    Vietnamese and Korean. La Opinion

    in Los Angeles translated the story

    into Spanish, published the story and

    allowed us to distribute their transla-

    tion to other Spanish-language out-

    lets, an arrangement we have contin-

    ued. We did not charge any o these

    key partners in exchange or their

    contributions to the project.

    Coordinating the release was a lo-

    gistical eat. The embargo was set to

    the time o the KGO-TV evening

    broadcast, with all news outlets ree

    to post to their sites and then publish

    or broadcast on their own schedule.

    No one complained. In act, the only

    criticism was rom some news organi-

    zations asking why they hadnt been

    part o it. We were stunned. News or-

    ganizations wanted to be part o this.

    What was surprising to us was how

    the need or exclusivity, once so sac-

    rosanct throughout print as well as

    broadcast, ell by the wayside. Our

    new model was being widely ac-

    cepted and, better yet, adopted. Audi-

    ences were so ragmented that news

    organizations would rather share a

    good, unique story than not have it

    and cede it to their competition. And

    in this era o shrinking revenues, most

    media could not aord to nance thedepth o reporting CIR and Cali-

    ornia Watch wanted to do. That rst



    Caliornia Watch Editorial Director:

    Exclusives No Longer That Important

    Mediabistro, July 28, 2010

    Caliornia Watch Launches Site to

    Track Gov Candidates Statements

    Mediabistro, June 21, 2010

    The New Investigators

    Columbia Journalism Review,

    May/June 2010

    Can newspaper muckraking carry

    on in nonprots?

    Associated Press, Jan. 17, 2010

    Schulzs story ran on the

    ront page o about two

    dozen newspapers, reach-

    ing more than 1.8 million

    subscribers, and on televi-sion, radio, news websites

    and in ethnic media outlets

    throughout the state.
  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    story taught us a great deal about not

    being araid to try new things and to

    take risks. Our clients news orga-

    nizations and their content users

    would let us know what worked.


    As thrilled as we were with the reach

    o our rst story, it also gave us a look

    at one o our primary challenges go-

    ing into the uture: how to engage

    and capture our audiences. By pub-

    lishing through dozens o other out-

    lets, we had limited knowledge about,

    or access to, our readers, viewers and

    listeners. Moving orward, our stories

    oten would be the most read and

    e-mailed on other news sites, amass-

    ing hundreds o reader comments

    and tens o thousands o page views.The blessing and curse o our wide

    and nonexclusive distribution net-

    work is that it takes ull advantage o

    the web and new media: Our stories

    travel, so they reach huge audiences,

    but it is extremely dicult to quan-

    tiy, capture and engage those people

    when they essentially belong to

    other outlets. Weve become more

    sophisticated in tracking the reach o

    our content. But we still need to get

    better at it so that we can accuratelymeasure our audience. Knowing who

    our readers, viewers and listeners are

    helps us engage with our audience

    directly. Its also an important metric

    or our unders.

    The distribution o our rst story ex-

    ceeded our wildest expectations. We

    ollowed up with two more packages

    in the all o 2009 one in November

    on the ailure o a program to reduce

    class sizes in K-12 schools and anoth-er in December on the an infuen-

    tial campaign donor. We also opened

    our our-person Sacramento bureau,

    based in KQEDs capital oce. Sac-

    ramento veteran Bob Salladay works

    as CIRs senior editor there with re-

    porters Corey G. Johnson, Christina

    Jewett and Chase Davis.

    By January 2010, our investigative

    reporters and a stable o outstanding

    reelancers had more than 35 inves-

    tigations under way. With help rom

    consultant Susan Mernit, we also

    launched the Caliornia Watch web-

    site. It eatured close to 20 searchable

    databases and daily blogging by our

    reporters and editors. We also es-

    tablished an aggressive social media

    strategy. Our model was to continueto distribute through others, but we

    wanted our site to showcase our work

    and not be dormant between investi-

    gative stories.

    We were in a period o relative und-

    ing stability, and we moved in January

    to a larger oce in Berkeley, with the

    modern conveniences o heating and

    air conditioning, sucient bandwidth

    to keep our computers rom crash-

    ing, and a desk or everyone. Our newhome is less expensive than San Fran-

    cisco oce space, which we also con-

    sidered, and is close to UC Berkeley

    and its Graduate School o Journal-

    ism. Our proximity to the journalism

    school has enabled some o us to teach

    or guest lecture there and to nd

    ways to collaborate with students.

    While signing a ve-year lease at our

    new location gave us a lower rate,

    there was also an element o risk;there is no certainty o unding that

    ar into the uture. It was a roll o the

    dice. More and more, I was learning

    that theres a lot o crapshooting in

    the decision making o a nonprot

    leader. Yet, without taking risks, you

    cannot grow.

    As we adjusted to our new workspace,

    our teams personalities, strengths

    and weaknesses became clearer. We

    ocused on stories and creating the

    model and, most important, a culture

    in which multiple platorms and skills

    were at the table rom the beginning

    o a project. But our gaps were evi-

    dent. Every newspaper editor has had

    the experience o having a deeply re-

    ported story come to a close when

    someone asks, Where are the photos

    and graphics? Despite our all-out at-

    tempt to cover our multimedia bases,

    there was so much more we wanted

    to be able to do with each story

    but there was only so much our sta

    could do. Some skills were lacking.

    We had no photographer or graphic

    artist on our team, or instance.

    The eort to think with about visuals,

    multimedia and audio involved a cul-tural re-education or some o our

    reporters. We needed to shed the

    traditional media practice o keep-

    ing stories secret rom all but top

    editors beore publication. Instead, we

    wanted everyone to embrace a rou-

    tine o presenting stories-in-progress

    to a group o colleagues who could

    help build interactive graphics, video,

    radio and animation. The broader

    team would not only ask questions,

    but also think o ways to take the actsand data and use them to tell the sto-

    ry in their specialty. This was vital to

    producing multi-aceted stories across

    various platorms so that each ele-

    ment could be in process simultane-

    ously as we headed to a release date.

    It was much easier to create and shape

    this model rom the beginning than

    it would have been to transorm an

    entrenched legacy newsroom, where

    change was typically met with resis-tance. In this new model, any ques-

    tion was a good question, and sta

    members had to be reminded and en-

    couraged to take risks and think di-

    erently about storytelling and reach-

    ing disparate audiences.

    More and more o my time was in-

    volved in undraising and internal

    issues mainly related to managing

    personalities, egos and the conficts

    that did arise, as they would in any

    growing workplace. I elt ortunate

    that I had management experience

    in dealing with personnel issues in

    my past roles, albeit in much larger

    organizations. In a smaller work-

    place, such issues are magnied

    and must be dealt with switly

    or they can become poisonous.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism





    As stories began to be completed and

    distributed, we rened the editing

    and distribution process we had es-

    tablished with the homeland security

    story. We knew rom that experience

    that there was a need to help newsorganizations localize our stories. But

    we could not manage that process or

    every partner.

    Katches came up with a solution. He

    edited three to our versions o a print

    story, by geography, when possible.

    We might have Southern, Central

    and Northern Caliornia versions, or

    example. All o these stories were dra-

    matically shorter than the ull-length

    version we would publish on our

    website. In some cases, 3,000-word

    stories would be cut by two-thirds

    or news organizations that couldnt

    accommodate lengthy text stories.

    Partners would have access to our

    data and could crat local inserts or a

    new top with our sign-o. They also

    could do their own sidebars with a

    local ocus. We delivered budget lines

    as early as possible, requently two

    weeks ahead o the publication date.

    KQED radio and Montgomery, our

    shared reporter, were involved rom

    the beginning o stories, deciding in

    consultation which ones he would

    ocus on or broadcast. The rest o us

    quickly learned the concept o sound,

    just as we learned about the need or

    video through our work with KGO-

    TV and others. Agustin Armendariz,

    our data analyst, created searchable

    databases or many stories.

    Distribution was taking up more oFreedbergs and my time. We knew

    we needed a sta member ocused on

    distribution and partner management.

    We also wanted to add a health re-

    porter, so we set out to nd additional

    unding. By the spring o 2010, The

    Caliornia Endowment awarded us a

    grant or a public engagement man-

    ager and a community health reporter.

    With the support o the Ethics and

    Excellence in Journalism Foundation,

    we added our distribution and on-

    line community manager, Meghann

    Farnsworth, in August.

    Farnsworth not only places our work

    with partners, but also is integral to

    pushing our stories out through nu-merous social media platorms. She

    started with Facebook and Twitter

    but later began to explore emerging

    and niche platorms and tools, such as

    Tumblr and StumbleUpon. She keeps

    abreast o almost daily changes in so-

    cial media, Internet sites and emerging

    platorms that can help us grow and

    engage new audiences. She has helped

    reporters experiment with new story-

    telling platorms, such as Storiy. She

    keeps track o where our work travelsin the blogosphere and attends coner-

    ences to raise awareness o Caliornia

    Watch and CIR in key communities

    that could urther distribution.

    By the end o 2010, we produced ar

    more stories than was our goal and

    reached much wider audiences than

    we anticipated. We completed 24

    in-depth investigations, distributed

    through our partners. In addition, we

    had published 1,118 blog posts. Wenow call them news posts because

    so many o them are ully reported

    stories. Twenty-eight searchable da-

    tabases complemented our work and

    helped the public localize and per-

    sonalize big issues. Stories included a

    look at BP receiving stimulus unds,

    cesarean section rates across Caliornia

    and issues related to maternal health,

    and climate change legislation in Cal-


    Our stories were having an impact:

    p We detailed numerous citations

    or a major retailer or selling jewelry

    tainted with lead, prompting

    the retailer to pull items rom store

    shelves nationwide and leading to

    pending state legislation to more

    eectively prevent such sales.

    p We showed how hundreds o

    nursing homes had cut sta and

    reduced wages, even as they took

    money rom a taxpayer und

    designed to do just the opposite.

    Ater the story ran, the governor

    announced a series o quality and

    accountability reorms that were

    approved by the Legislature andsigned into law.

    p We showed how law enorcement

    agencies were increasingly using

    DUI checkpoints to seize vehicles

    rom unlicensed drivers, mostly

    immigrants. Aterward, based on

    our work, the city o Los Angeles

    and seven other cities halted the

    practice o impounding vehicles.

    The story also resulted in public

    protests. Legislation was introducedto dramatically curb impounding

    at checkpoints.

    Our work has led to industry awards,

    including a general excellence award

    rom the Online News Association

    and Journalists o the Year and Inves-

    tigative Reporting awards rom the

    Northern Caliornia Chapter o the

    Society o Proessional Journalists.

    Our Caliornia Watch website also

    won a National Headliner Award orbest online-only news site.

    With Public Engagement Manager

    Ashley Alvarado in place, we pro-

    duced in-depth React & Act mate-

    rials in conjunction with major inves-

    tigations. To enable our audience to

    take action on issues they care about,

    Alvarado created Q&As, act sheets,

    links to good sources o urther inor-

    mation, and contact inormation or

    key players and government ocials,

    all in one easy-to-navigate place. Our

    engagement also extended to direct

    community contact, such as ree lead

    screenings ollowing our investiga-

    tion into contaminated costume jew-

    elry, and Open Newsroom events in

    which we station reporters in Wi-Fi-

    accessible caes around the state to ex-

    plain Caliornia Watch to the public.

  • 8/4/2019 Reinventing Journalism



    In another eort to expand our ap-

    proach to reporting and engagement,

    Caliornia Watch joined American

    Public Medias Public Insight Net-

    work, which, among other unctions,

    enables reporters to ask questions and

    nd knowledgeable sources or stories.

    In our rst year, we partnered with

    nearly 80 news organizations and

    reached an audience conservativelyestimated at 25 million. This was

    based on newspaper circulation (in-

    cluding newspaper websites) and rat-

    ings or TV and radio partners. But

    we know that this represents a rac-

    tion o our actual audience.

    Our own web trac grew month

    to month, and by the end o 2010,

    we had more than 200,000 unique

    visitors. Our revenue rom Calior-

    nia Watch stories was $27,375. Not

    much, but we had established the

    principle o payment or content.


    Businessdevelopmentstrategies arekey to uture

    successAs 2011 began, the Center or Inves-

    tigative Reporting and its robust new

    creation, Caliornia Watch, were in

    good shape. We had received a great

    deal o positive publicity the previous

    year and earned recognition within

    the journalism community, which

    helped with undraising. In the last 18

    months, the sta had quadrupled and

    had more than 30 projects under way.

    Our projected organizational budget

    or the year was up to $4.7 million,

    with $2.3 million o that or Calior-

    nia Watch. We were not ully unded

    or the year, but we were cautiously

    optimistic we would successully ob-

    tain the unding to move the organi-

    zation into the uture. But I was aware

    that our uture was ar rom secure.

    We were not lling open positions

    and were closely watching our budget.

    The evolution o CIR and the col-

    laborative culture we had envisioned,

    both inside and outside the organi-

    zation, were a reality. The multi-plat-

    orm and nontraditional distribution

    strategies worked. And we were posi-

    tioned to take advantage o changing


    Strategies that would help increase

    revenue became our ocus. We

    brought on a business development

    consultant with the goal o nal-

    izing a business plan that would o-

    cus on three things: growing our

    audience, generating more revenue

    and increasing user engagement.

    From our altering eorts in the all

    o 2009, we had become more con-dent about the value and possibili-

    ties o charging or content. Going

    into 2011, Editorial Director Mark

    Katches and Distribution and On-