ProPublica pioneers investigative journalism for the digital age

PAMPLONA, Spain -- Given all the trash, half-truths and outright lies published on digital media, people are placing a higher value on media that verify information and demonstrate high ethical standards.
Paul Steiger, taking questions at U. of Navarra event

Paul Steiger, founder and executive chairman of ProPublica, tells of a major donor to his online publication who "absolutely hated" an investigative story that they had published about a group "near and dear to the donor's heart". Steiger told the donor that the information was verified, and the story was fair. "We will just have to agree to disagree," he told the donor.

The donor, who had given $100,000 every year, stopped giving. And that would have been the end of the story, except that a year later, with no explanation, the donor's annual check arrived again. Steiger's point was that even people who disagree with you still respect journalism with high standards of accuracy and ethics.

Versión en español

He made his comments to students and faculty of the University of Navarra during a series of public presentations and interviews with various media. He described some of the keys to producing effective investigative journalism even while traditional news media have been cutting back on staff and in-depth reporting. (You can see coverage of his talks, in Spanish, from El Español, El Pais, ABC, Público, ElMundo, and Infolibre, along with a Storify of Tweets in English and Spanish.)
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