Introducing Investigative Post

An investigative reporting center involving some of the biggest names in Buffalo journalism opened for business Feb. 22.

Investigative Post is collaborating with major media outlets and university journalism programs to produce and distribute investigations and analyses on the major issues confronting Buffalo and Western New York.

Jim Heaney, a veteran investigative reporter formerly with The Buffalo News, is spearheading the venture as editor and executive director.

“We’re going to produce hard-nosed investigations and in-depth analyses intended to help shape the debate over how to get this community back on its feet,” said Heaney, a former Pulitzer Prize finalist who departed The News in August to launch Investigative Post.

“We’ll be a watchdog with both bite and brains,” he added.

Members of the board of directors include Tom Toles, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning with The News before joining the Washington Post, and Lee Coppola, an award-winning newspaper and television investigative reporter and former dean of the School of Journalism at St. Bonaventure University.

“In this world of diminishing investigative journalism resources, Investigative Post provides another means for shedding light on what some want hidden,” Coppola said. “As far as I’m concerned, the more experienced investigative journalistic eyes watching what happens in our region, the better.”

Added Toles: “The changing media landscape has challenged the vital role of investigative reporting in the American press, particularly at the local level. Investigative Post helps fill a crucial need for more than just information, but for the kind of public understanding that makes democracy work.”

Buffalo joins more than 40 cities and regions around the nation with a non-profit investigative reporting center. Most of the centers have been established in the past five years in reaction to cutbacks in newspaper and television newsrooms that have hamstrung their ability to produce investigative and other in-depth coverage.

Rather than competing with established news outlets, investigative centers collaborate with them.  Investigative Post will share selected content with  WBFO-FM, 88.7 FM and AM 970,  the region’s National Public Radio stations; The Buffalo News; and Artvoice, Buffalo’s alternative newsweekly. A deal is pending with a local television station.

Seeking to tap the expertise of academia, Investigative Post is teaming up with the journalism programs at St. Bonaventure University, the University at Buffalo and Medaille College. The objective is to promote the development of young journalists, particularly those of color.

Investigative Post’s coverage will initially focus on government and politics, the economy and economic development, the regional environment, and problems related to poverty. Investigations and analyses will be published on investigativepost.org in addition to being shared with other media outlets.

The website will be updated daily with other content. Heaney will reprise the award-winning blog he wrote for The News and Toles will share his editorial cartoons and daily blog produced for The Washington Post. Other investigative features will be produced and posted throughout the week.

Investigative Post will also make extensive use of social media on Facebook and Twitter, part of an effort to build a community around its work. Community events are also planned.

“Investigative Post intends to be an integral part of the local media landscape and the greater community,” Heaney said. ‘We’re new media for a new day.”