How Much Does A Pulitzer-Worthy Story Cost?

More sobering facts about investigative journalism.

ProPublica’s Sheri Fink just won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism for her story (published in the New York Times Magazine) about the New Orleans hospital where patients were euthanized after Hurricane Katrina.

Her story cost, Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati estimated, $400,000 to produce.

Yikes.

Actually, Nieman Lab reported last year, that estimate wasn’t quite accurate: Marzorati was estimating how much the story would have cost if Times staffers had produced it entirely in-house.

But the true costs are pretty staggering: Fink received $33,000 plus $10,000 in expenses for fourteen months of work, according to her editor Steve Engelberg. Engelberg “threw in another $20,000 to $30,000 for travel expenses, in addition to three months of editing and lawyering at ProPublica and the Times, which also spent $25,000 to $30,000 on photographs,” Nieman Lab wrote.

Fink also worked on the story at her own expense for four months in 2007.