Journalism Now A Charity Case As New Group Gets £2 Million Grant, Google Backing

The Investigations Fund, launched last month by a dozen reporters to find funding for independent journalism, is being absorbed in to a new Bureau for Investigative Journalism, which has just been awarded a £2 million grant from the Potter Foundation for the same purpose.

Founded by London’s Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), a charity, the bureau says it wants to be “a counterweight to the decline of traditional media investigations” as money at institutional newspapers, which have been laying off hundreds of journalists, dries up.

It says Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is supporting with “technical expertise software tools and training”, but there’s no financial contribution apparent and this is more likely to mean something along the lines of a Google Apps roll-out or passing on expertise. Google’s UK and Benelux comms director Peter Barron, the ex Newsnight editor, is on board but, as he told a conference last week, “we don’t do content“.

It may be marker of how troubling the future funding of UK commercial journalism appears that we are now seeing one of our first philanthropically-supported journalism initiatives, following the emergence in the US of initiatives like ProPublica as well as philanthropist- and listener-supported NPR. The irony – buoyed by The Telegraph’s MP expenses investigation and The Guardian’s mobile hacking story, investigative and data-driven journalism is more popular than it has been in years.

CIJ director Gavin Macfadyen, in the announcement: “We will experiment with all the techniques available to us from