Articles about "Center for Public Integrity"


Center for Public Integrity will hire 50 freelancers to probe statehouse corruption

Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity is launching a nationwide investigation into indicators of statehouse corruption, and it’s looking for 50 freelancers to help get it done.

The State Integrity Investigation, conducted first in 2011, is a deep-dive look at factors that cause corruption in each of America’s 50 capitols, Nicholas Kusnetz, the initiative’s project manager, told Poynter in an email.

The last project resulted in more than 1,100 stories and led to reform measures passed in seven states, according to the the Center for Public Integrity. It was a 2013 finalist for Harvard’s Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize.

Participants will work part-time starting in fall and through early 2016 and will be expected to answer 200-300 questions using data during the first two months of the project. Pay is $7,000.

Here’s the full job description:

The Center for Public Integrity is looking for top-notch journalists to investigate the risk of corruption in their state governments. We’re hiring one reporter in each state to carry out a combination of research and reporting into state government ethics, transparency and accountability laws, and their enforcement. Your work will lead to nationally-distributed stories and state-by-state rankings of government accountability, complete with scorecards, grades and stories that demonstrate where states succeed and where they fail.

The State Integrity Investigation will rely on original, in-depth reporting and detailed data collection in each state to uncover areas of corruption risk in our statehouses. The project will cover a wide range of “integrity indicators,” including campaign finance laws, state budget processes, auditing capabilities, procurement practices, financial disclosure and more. Each reporter will gather data through a combination of research and interviews and then write an accompanying narrative on the findings in that state. Examples of state scorecards, categories and stories from our initial State Integrity Investigation in 2012 can be found at www.stateintegrity.org.

Reporters will have to answer some 200-300 questions with specific, well-sourced data over the first two months of work. Reporters will work with partner organization Global Integrity to register and verify their research. They will be expected to meet rigorous standards for accuracy and sourcing based on methodology developed by Global Integrity. Reporters must be well-versed in the laws, procedures, and inner workings of their state government, and ideally maintain an extensive network of contacts and sources both in and outside of state government.

Read more
Tools:
1 Comment
buzenberg-small

Center for Public Integrity chief will step down

Center for Public Integrity

Bill Buzenberg will step down as executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, the organization announced Friday. Buzenberg was named to the post in 2007 after a long tenure at NPR. He’s helped raise more than $50 million for CPI, the organization says, and he’ll stay on until a replacement is named.

CPI just won its first Pulitzer Prize, for a series about black lung. ABC News contested the Pulitzer, saying its partnership with CPI on the story entitled it to part of the award.

Buzenberg replied to ABC News with a letter that said CPI reporter Chris Hamby “lived and breathed this investigation almost exclusively for a year.” (Hamby recently left CPI for BuzzFeed.) ABC News “has a very very inflated idea of their role in this investigation,” Buzenberg told Poynter at the time. Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler agreed, saying “the prize to the Hamby alone is warranted.” Read more

Tools:
1 Comment

Gordon Witkin named top editor at Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has named Gordon Witkin as its executive editor.

Witkin has been serving as the center’s top editor in an acting capacity. He also manages the center’s coverage of health care and juvenile justice and its state integrity project.

Gordon Witkin (The Center for Public Integrity photo)

The appointment comes just weeks after the center’s Chris Hamby won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism honoring his stories on black-lung disease among coal miners. The announcement on the prize was followed by a dispute between the center and ABC News, which felt it should be given credit for its part in the investigation. Hamby has since moved to BuzzFeed.

The center announced Witkin’s appointment on its website:

“I am extremely pleased to confirm the solid editorial structure we have been operating under for more than a year,” [Executive Director William E.] Buzenberg said Friday. “It was a year in which The Center for Public Integrity won eight of the top 16 awards in journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Goldsmith Prize and the George Polk Award, among others.”

The center also named John Dunbar as deputy executive editor; he will continue to manage money in politics and financial coverage. Jim Morris was appointed managing editor overseeing environmental and workplace safety issues. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
partnrships_100_Depositphotos

Despite ABC News/CPI blowup, here’s how news partnerships can work

Journalism organizations might get discouraged about joining partnerships after the public meltdown of the partnership between ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity this week.

CPI’s reporter Chris Hamby won a Pulitzer Prize for stories that exposed how coal miners who were dying from black-lung disease were being unfairly denied health benefits. ABC wanted to get some of the credit for the investigation. What followed was a nasty exchange that played out here on Poynter Online all week.

But let’s not forget the upside to great investigative journalists from different organizations working together. ABC and CPI did affect lives, expose wrongdoing and reach a national audience that neither could have done alone.

Some of the most important journalism in recent years has been the product of partnerships. Look at this graphic from PBS Frontline showing all of the partners it has worked with on significant projects. The list spans from local newspapers to nonprofit investigative groups to ESPN and Univision. In some cases there were several partners involved in a project.

Howard Berkes, NPR investigations correspondent

National Public Radio investigations correspondent Howard Berkes told Poynter.org that partnerships can allow newsrooms to cover stories with depth and expertise that they cannot do on their own. Berkes points to a partnership he participated in that involved The Center for Public Integrity and NPR. The investigation focused on the resurgence of black-lung cases in the United States.

“My partner in this project, Chris Hamby from The Center for Public Integrity, knows how to make sense of data a lot better than I do. He worked on worker safety realm of the story while I know a lot about the coal industry having done a lot of stories about mine safety. It was a good blending; we spent a week on the road together, but when I did an interview alone I shared a complete transcript with him and he did the same. We shared everything,” Berkes said. When it was time to publish and air the stories, Berkes said having a partner was vital to making the stories bulletproof. “CPI reviewed my script, every word of it. While you each write your own stories, you want your reporting to be consistent with your partner. ”

Berkes also produced his groundbreaking investigation into corn bin safety, Buried in Grain, with CPI as a partner. The story uncovered how hundreds of workers died in preventable grain-related entrapments in 34 states since 1984. But safety enforcement is weak and even big fines get reduced before they are paid.

“My partner in that project, Jim Morris is a journalist who spent his entire career covering workplace safety issues.” Berkes said Morris brought tremendous knowledge to that project, which produced congressional action.

Berkes said his expertise in developing memorable characters to illustrate stories made the facts the team uncovered come alive. Berkes said his partner at CPI was ready to publish his version of the story in November 2012. But NPR wanted to land one key interview first, an interview with a young worker who watched his buddy die while being buried in grain. It took six months to land the interview and CPI agreed to wait until NPR was ready to air. “Good partners make it more likely that you will produce the kind of reporting that will make a difference,” Berkes said.

Mark Stencel, Poynter Digital Fellow

Mark Stencel, The Poynter Institute’s Digital Fellow, has been helping to manage news partnerships since 1996. “My first job in partnerships involved The Washington Post, ABC News, Newsweek and Times Mirror. It was right at the beginning of the digital news movement.”

Since then, Stencel has worked on partnerships that included the Post, MSNBC, MSNBC.com, NPR and many others. “I can tell you this, anybody who starts a partnership with another organization thinking it is going to save time reporting a story is almost always wrong. Partnerships involve a lot of trust-building, communication and effort.” Stencel offered me a list of ways partnerships can pay off:

  • Expand Your Expertise: “Newsrooms should partner with others who have experiences that will complement their own. The partner could also have contacts and access that helps tell a stronger story than you can get alone.”
  • Reach: “Partners can help you reach wider audiences. It is the megaphone effect that can get the attention of people, including lawmakers who can change things that you expose as wrong.”
  • Share Resources: “Partnerships can help newsrooms with limited budgets to find ways to tell big stories.”

 

Stencel says partnerships sometimes fall apart when the parties fail to work out key details on the front end. His advice:

  • Know What You Want: “The worst partnerships are the ones that are born at executive lunches and dinners. I have been in a lot of meetings where teams stare longingly and whisper about making beautiful news but never do. You have to have specific objectives for why you want this partnership and how you will help each other.”
  • Internal Partnerships Don’t Always Work: “Even if partners come from the same company, there is no guarantee that they will work well together. They still have to agree on an outcome and work toward that.”
  • Get Management Buy-In: “I have worked on partnerships that have endured many changes in management, including the polling partnerships between ABC News and The Washington Post. The key is to define your goals and stick to it.”
  • Agree to a Process: “The processes include everything from how stories will be edited, when they will be published, how you will make corrections if they are needed, how you will credit each other and how, if the work is submitted for awards, the credit would be shared.”
  • Agree on Legal Issues: “Partnerships are best if they begin with a formal agreement but lots of them are informal. You may have to have a talk about who would be responsible if somebody gets sued for what you report. How will you indemnify each other?”

 

NPR’s Berkes said big organizations should not overlook smaller partners. “I am working on a project right now with a partner called Mine Safety and Health News. They are encyclopedic in their knowledge of the coal industry, civil and criminal cases and they know all of the characters and companies in the industry.” You may not have heard of Mine Safety and Health News, but the group has won 31 national journalism awards over the years.

Stencel says his experience with partnerships has taught him that newsrooms get the most results from working on targeted projects first, then if it works out, strike a larger partnership.

“Marry often, divorce bad partners fast, and don’t be afraid to keep dating,” Stencel said. Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
CORRECTION Nobel Peace Prize Auction

Contest entries from ABC, Center for Public Integrity highlight their division

On the same day that ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity won yet another national journalism award for exposing how coal miners were being unjustly denied black-lung benefits, the spat between the two venerable newsrooms heated up. And now you can read the letters that have been flying back and forth between former colleagues who in recent months shared some of journalism’s highest honors for their work.

Wednesday, ABC and CPI won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award for online investigative reporting (affiliated category).

On March 5, ABC and CPI accepted the coveted Harvard Goldsmith Prize. The Goldsmith judges gushed about how they believed the joint investigation was a model for other newsrooms to follow.

 

The White House Correspondents’ Association also honored the joint project with its Edgar A. Poe Award.

But the partnership blew up Tuesday when the Pulitzer Prizes were announced. A CPI reporter, Chris Hamby, won and ABC was not included in the award and says it should share in the honor.

CPI fired back and said ABC didn’t do as much work on the project as it claimed. How did a partnership that produced what, by all accounts, is one of the most important works of journalism in the last year fall apart so spectacularly?

The difference in how the two sides viewed each other’s involvement shows up in two contest entry forms. The first is one submitted by ABC for the SPJ/SDX awards. ABC mentions its “partner” CPI’s considerable contributions to the effort multiple times in the entry.

ABC News Contest Entry

Now look at the entry submitted to the Pulitzers by CPI. It barely mentions ABC’s work except to say ABC joined the effort months into the investigation.

CPI Pulitzer Entry Letter

On Wednesday, the executive director of The Center for Public Integrity, Bill Buzenberg, offered to release what he says is evidence of how little ABC News knew about the investigation into coal miner black-lung benefits.

Buzenberg was still steaming about the four-page letter that ABC News President Ben Sherwood sent to Buzenberg and his center’s board asking them to “share” credit for the Pulitzer awarded to Hamby, who Capital New York reported is moving to BuzzFeed.

(You can read Sherwood’s letter to Buzenberg, Buzenberg’s reply, and CPI’s letter to Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler below.)

On Wednesday, Buzenberg wrote on the CPI website:

Emails and drafts leading up to the airdate of ABC’s “Nightline” segment show that ABC depended to a remarkable degree on Chris’ access to sources, documents and data and his expertise on complex issues — all of which repeatedly saved ABC from making embarrassing factual errors in broadcast segments and online stories.

The Center is prepared to show in great detail how little ABC’s Brian Ross and Matt Mosk understood about even the most fundamental concepts and key facts and how they repeatedly turned to Chris to advise them or, in some instances, to do their work for them.

Draft scripts leading up to the airdate of the “Nightline” segment show serious factual inaccuracies by ABC and a continued lack of understanding of basic, key concepts. If not for Chris’ intervention, upon finally being shown the scripts, ABC would have found itself facing withering, legitimate criticism.

ABC has never acknowledged its extraordinary reliance on Chris for even the most basic information about this highly technical and complex story. Chris, of course, has never complained to ABC about this, despite repeated statements by ABC on air, online and in press releases that erroneously made it appear as if ABC was the driving force behind this project.

It is incredibly insulting for ABC to not only fail to acknowledge Chris’ indispensable work solely for ABC’s benefit, but to go even further and suggest that the opposite is true — that the Center is downplaying ABC’s work. A mountain of evidence shows this is not true.

In his letter, Sherwood insisted that CPI could not have won the Pulitzer without ABC’s help. Buzenberg provides a point-by-point rebuttal saying Hamby was the engine behind the story for months before ABC entered the investigation and in long stretches when ABC was working on other things.

Buzenberg repeated the point that he made to Poynter.org Tuesday that no matter what ABC says its contributions were, Pulitzer rules would not have allowed the network to share a prize.

Buzenberg says:

Of course, we appreciate the contributions ABC made, but the unique contributions of ABC were almost exclusively for the benefit of the production of television segments. We believe ABC did great work on the television segments, which is why we submitted them in contests that allowed such joint submissions and happily shared numerous other honors with ABC. But, as we’ve said, television simply cannot be entered in the Pulitzers. The rules are very clear and have been confirmed again by the Pulitzer Administrator.

We have been thrilled at the success of this project and happy to share in the accolades with ABC. But we find it very disturbing that ABC is now trying to grab credit for work it did not do.

Letter from Ben Sherwood about Center for Public Integrity Pulitzer

Letter from Bill Buzenberg to Ben Sherwood

Center for Public Integrity letter to Sig Gissler

Related links: CPI stories | ABC News stories Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
abc-cpi

ABC News says Center for Public Integrity should share Pulitzer for investigative reporting

This is the top of the letter that ABC President Ben Sherwood sent to William Buzenberg and his organization’s board members Tuesday asking The Center for Public Integrity to share Pulitzer Prize credit.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood sent a four-page letter to WIlliam Buzenberg, executive director of The Center for Public Integrity, asking CPI to share credit for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting awarded to CPI’s Chris Hamby this week. The letter was sent to the CPI board and was obtained by Poynter.org.

“You seem to be determined that ABC was simply a megaphone for Chris Hamby’s work,” Sherwood wrote. Sherwood said ABC’s investigative reporter Brian Ross and producer Matt Mosk should “share” in the Pulitzer and Sherwood says he intends to take the matter up with the Pulitzer board.

The work at the center of this spat exposed how doctors and lawyers worked with the coal industry to deny sick miners black-lung medical benefits. In response Johns Hopkins suspended its black lung program and Congress and the Labor Department reacted.

-See the collection of ABC News stories

-See the collection of CPI stories

Sherwood says in his letter that ABC and CPI spent a year working as equal partners in the investigation of “how some lawyers and doctors rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease, resulting in remedial legislative efforts.”  In fact, the two news organizations have shared other big journalism prizes for this investigation including the Goldsmith Award. But when CPI sent the entry to the Pulitzer Committee, the nominating letter said:

“Months into the reporting, the Center shared its findings with the ABC News investigative unit, whose broadcasts help reach a wider audience. ABC produced a 10-minute ‘Nightline’ segment focusing on the unit at Johns Hopkins, building from the Center’s work and airing the evening of the Center’s publication of part two.”

Sherwood said that the nominating letter is wrong. Sherwood says the partnership began October 31, 2012 and ABC said it had promises from CPI that it would be a “true partnership.”  Sherwood wrote to Buzenberg:

“In your submission to the Pulitzer committee, you omitted the names of ABC News reporters and sought to parse and diminish their contributions, even though their bylines appropriately appear on four of the eight articles submitted by the Center to the committee. (Surprisingly, Chris Hamby’s byline appears in bold face type in the Pulitzer submissions, although that was not the case when the articles actually appeared online.”)

Buzenberg told me late Tuesday evening in a phone interview, “ABC has a very very inflated idea of their role in this investigation.” He continued, “The facts are the facts. The CPI’s Chris Hamby wrote the stories that were submitted to the (Pulitzer) committee.” He said Hamby pored through 1,500 medical cases and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents.  (Read Chris Hamby’s own account of how the story came to be.)

Sherwood said ABC News has “nothing but the highest admiration for the work of Chris Hamby” but said “CPI alone did not win this honor.” He asked, “Do you really believe that Hamby and CPI would have been recognized with this honor without the contributions of ABC News?”

Buzenberg said, “Brian Ross is a great reporter, these are great people, they did great television reports.” But Buzenberg said ABC is “ex-post facto trying to grab” a piece of the Pulitzer by using “a big PR effort.”  After our phone conversation, Buzenberg wrote me an email saying:

Three times ABC SVP for communications Jeffrey W. Schneider threatened me and the Center saying they would make this very “messy” for us unless they got what they wanted, which is a share of the investigation prize that they did not earn under the Pulitzer rules. ABC does great TV. They did not write the entries or spend a year doing this investigation with all these documents and data, as we did, as confirmed again today by the Pulitzer Administrator. Those are the facts.”

ABC may find the Pulitzer’s rules make it impossible for it to be a part of one of journalism’s most celebrated awards. Buzenberg sent me an email that he said he got from Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler saying the award belongs to Hamby, not ABC:

Bill:  I’ve reviewed the entry again. It is overwhelmingly Hamby’s work and was entered by the center in conformance with our rules on limited partnerships (SEE BELOW). The rules expressly state that the eligible entity must do the preponderance of the work; specific elements produced by the ineligible entity (such as ABC video) cannot be entered; and if there is a prize it will go ONLY to the eligible organization that submitted the work.

So, based on the entry, the prize to the Hamby alone is warranted.

Best, SG

The email has this attachment:

PULITZER GUIDELINES

Q: Can an eligible news organization enter work that is published in partnership with an ineligible organization, such as a magazine or television station? A: Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Such a partnership is permitted if the eligible organization (1) does the preponderance of the work and (2) publishes the work first, or at least simultaneously. It is up to the entrant to demonstrate convincingly in its entry letter and in the composition of its entry that it primarily conceived and produced the work and that the entry rests on the basic foundation provided by the eligible entity. Specific elements produced by the ineligible entity, such as video, are disqualified and should not be submitted. Eligibility decisions, as necessary, will be made on a case-by-case basis. If the entry wins a prize, it will go only to the eligible news organization that submitted the work.

 

The Pulitzer rules further state who may enter. The rules say that broadcasters may not enter except as a lesser partner, which CPI argues ABC was:

“Entries must be based on material coming from a United States newspaper or news site that publishes at least weekly during the calendar year and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles. Magazines and broadcast media, and their respective Web sites, are not eligible. Entries that involve collaboration between an eligible organization and ineligible media will be considered if the eligible organization does the preponderance of the work and publishes it first.”

It is a sad postscript to a remarkable work of journalism produced by two of America’s most important investigative newsrooms. The disagreement over a prize should not tarnish Chris Hamby’s work and ABC News’ work. Indeed, we need more of that kind of journalism. It would be a pity if this moment of friction also stops other media organizations from working together to tell stories that need to be told. The cost of doing this work is often too much for one news organization to handle. Together they can reach bigger audiences and right wrongs. CPI said that was precisely why it joined forces with ABC, to increase the reach of the story.

The biggest honor that comes from this work won’t arrive as a trophy or even a cash prize. It will arrive when sick and dying coal miners get the health care they deserve. This investigation gave them hope. You can’t put that reward on a shelf. Read more

Tools:
3 Comments

CPI reduces staff to compensate for $2 million budget hole

The Center for Public Integrity laid off staff today to try to compensate for a $2 million budget shortfall.

Ten positions were eliminated, and five people lost their jobs with the Washington-based nonprofit journalism organization. One of those five people was transferred to a newly-created position within CPI, according to Communications Director Randy Barrett.

Sandy Johnson and Keith Epstein were among those laid off. Johnson started working at the Center one year ago this week. She was the managing editor for politics and government. Epstein was also a managing editor.

“It’s a very difficult position,” said Bill Buzenberg, CPI’s director, who also handled the 2007 layoffs when nine people lost their jobs.

“We started 2011 with a lot of momentum. It was the most money we’ve ever had rolling into 2011. But it’s no surprise that 2011 has been very challenging. And yes, we’ve come in short and had to draw down on our reserves,” Buzenberg said by phone. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
20decoder-weiss-articleInline

Ex-NPR news veep Weiss joins Center for Public Integrity

New York Times || Center for Public Integrity
Ellen Weiss, who resigned as NPR senior vice president of news in January after the Juan Williams firing controversy, has been named executive editor at the Center for Public Integrity. She’ll oversee the CPI’s domestic investigations and editorial staff. Weiss tells Tanzina Vega she spent the summer exploring job opportunities in media and non-media outlets before taking the CPI job. “I wanted to be working somewhere that was empowering the public with high quality trusted information.” CPI executive director William Buzenberg says of Weiss: “I have always been impressed but the way she led and her selection of stories and ideas.” She starts her new job on Oct. 3. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
jsmith_160

WP’s R. Jeffrey Smith joins Center for Public Integrity

Romenesko+ Misc.
R. Jeffrey Smith, who has been with the Washington Post since 1986, becomes managing editor of the National Security Reporting Desk at the Center for Public Integrity. “While the Post has been a fine home, I now relish the chance to help widen the Center’s scope,” Smith says in a release. “We’re going to dig deeply, and will sometimes partner with others, to put more information before the public at a moment when national security spending and policies are attracting new attention and discussion.” Read more

Tools:
0 Comments

Jennifer 8. Lee, Matt Thompson join CPI Board

Romenesko Misc.
Former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee “thinks and works at the cutting edge of our digital 21st century journalism,” says Center for Public Integrity executive director William E. Buzenberg. NPR editorial product manager Matt Thompson “has been creating all-important community journalism for some time and I will very much value his insights and advice.” Both have served on Poynter’s National Advisory Board. Read more

Tools:
0 Comments