No Balkinization, a última receita para salvar o jornalismo investigativo:

It will take decades to revitalise investigative journalism if we allow the present corps of reporters to disintegrate. This is happening at an alarming rate. A Pew study indicates that 15,000 journalists lost their jobs in the US in 2008, with reductions of more than 20% at large newspapers. These grim numbers are harbingers of a worldwide crisis that undermines the very foundation of liberal democracy. Any serious solution should focus exclusively on this problem – the collapse of investigative journalism, not the fate of particular delivery systems.

The problem with a BBC-style solution is clear enough. It is one thing for government to serve as one source of investigation but quite another for it to dominate the field. A near-monopoly would mean the death of critical inquiry.

There are serious problems with private endowments as well. For starters, there is the matter of scale. Pro Publica, an innovative private foundation for investigative reporting, is currently funding 28 journalists. It is hard to make the case for a massive increase in private funding when university endowments are crashing throughout the world, imperilling basic research. More fundamentally, a system of private endowments creates perverse incentives. Insulated from the profit motive, the endowments will pursue their own agendas without paying much attention to the issues that the public really cares about.

Here is where our system of national endowments enters the argument. In contrast to current proposals, we do not rely on public or private do-gooders to dole out money to their favourite journalists. Each national endowment would subsidise investigations on a strict mathematical formula based on the number of citizens who actually read their reports on news sites.


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