Is it me, or do you find it a tad ironic that the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation just awarded $1.24 million to 18 U.S. journalism organizations the same week that Fox's Bill O'Reilly found himself in the hot seat for potentially embellishing his role as a war correspondent back in the 80s just a few weeks after Brian Williams took a leave of absence from NBC for his own embellishment issues?
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the juxtaposition is illuminating. Here at IP, we track the journalism-related funding priorities of major foundations, and while certain entities have embraced important things like technological advancements and even the principles of video game design, it's pretty much all for naught if no one actually trusts the source of news itself, right?
And so everything old is new again.
The Oklahoma City-based foundation's mission is to "invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills, and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information." If money could talk, the foundation, which allocated the funds across three high-level buckets — Investigative Reporting, Professional Development, and Youth Education — is clearly most concerned with the former.
The foundation awarded $825,000 in total funding to outlets devoted to investigative reporting. Four outlets netted $100,000 grants, including the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in support of their work in promoting journalistic ethics, financial transparency and educating University of Wisconsin-Madison students. Five outlets netted $75,000 within the Investigative Reporting category, including the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism for general support of IowaWatch and "efforts to build a sustainable business model." Carolina Public Press, meanwhile, received a $50,000 grant to hire a managing editor.
The foundation awarded $290,000 to five outlets devoted to Professional Development and $125,000 to three outlets focused on Youth Education.
A closer look at the winners within the investigative reporting sector only solidifies the foundation's seemingly boring — and of course, incredibly important — priorities. Journalists have more shiny technological tools than ever at their disposal, but the foundation is instead committed to the craft itself and journalism's critical role as society's watchdog.
The only thing missing is a training class on "embellishment issue management."