Paul Steiger on Pro Publica at NYU: Nation of 300 Million Bloggers ‘Not a Nation I Want to Live In’

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Pro Publica general manager Dick Tofel with president and editor-in-chief Paul Steiger

If you’re currently studying journalism — or if you’re several decades too employed for that — you had plenty of reason to be riddled with j-envy last night*, as NYU Journalism chair Brooke Kroeger and her esteemed colleagues feted their department’s new space at 20 Cooper Square. No stranger himself to nascent endeavors, Pro Publica editor-in-chief Paul Steiger took the stage to share some crucial specifics on his yet-to-launch nonprofit journalism venture with the 200+-strong crowd.

ProPublica, according to Steiger, would launch in January as “an independent newsroom staffed at levels unprecedented for a nonprofit journalism organization,” committed to running “truly important stories.” Which are those? Ones based in original reporting, since Steiger pointed out that with the advent of online publishing, opinion-based coverage was “proliferating,” while the number of stories based in reporting were “shrinking.”

Steiger emphasized that “we will follow up on our own work relentlessly, and we won’t be proud — we will follow up on others’ stories,” underscoring the import of advancing key stories and their revelations so as not to let them get “left by the side of the road” by a media prone to breaking a story, then moving on to the next scoop without delving further into its issues.” Advancing others’ coverage was but one aspect of the collaboration Steiger advocated, asserting that Pro Publica had engaged the “three major TV networks” and several “major thought magazines” to yield “firm committments that will take us through three years of operation and probably much further.”

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Vanity Fair‘s Michael Shnayerson and a fellow guest.

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NYU Journalism chair Brooke Kroeger joked that architecture firm Polshek & Partners collaborated beautifully with she and her fellow journalism faculty members despite their “propensity for outspokenness.”

Journalism types pack 20 Cooper Square

–Photos by Joy Keh

*At least this writer did, since she — full disclosure — studied journalism at NYU way back when they had decidedly less state-of-the-art facilities.