Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

ProPublica's Paul Steiger Talks About the Future of Journalism and More! (Plus a Tour)


Without a doubt, one of the more compelling stories of the last year has been about the dicey fate traditional journalism and, of course, how it gets paid for (or not).

So, on a recent trip to New York, BoomTown dropped in on Paul Steiger, who used to be my boss as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal for many years and, more to the point, is one of the profession’s finest.

It was both a privilege and an honor to work for him (and also career-changing, as Steiger was one of the main backers of this All Things Digital Web site and our D: All Things Digital conference).

Today, Steiger is trying to succeed at what probably is a much more important venture–ProPublica–a nonprofit and independent newsroom that focuses on investigative journalism.

Its motto: “Journalism in the public interest.”

Remember that?

The organization–packed full with award-winning reporters–works in tandem with other media partners and gives them investigative stories its reporters do too.

The project, which started up almost two years ago, is backed by a $10 million multiyear grant from the Sandler family, which made its money from Golden West Financial Corporation (GDW).

Notes ProPublica on its site:

Investigative journalism is at risk. Many news organizations have increasingly come to see it as a luxury. Today’s investigative reporters lack resources: Time and budget constraints are curbing the ability of journalists not specifically designated “investigative” to do this kind of reporting in addition to their regular beats. This is therefore a moment when new models are necessary to carry forward some of the great work of journalism in the public interest that is such an integral part of self-government, and thus an important bulwark of our democracy.

Here’s my video interview with Steiger about all that and more, as well as a short tour of the office in Manhattan:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald