The economic decline of mainstream news outlets has lead to major cost cutting at newspapers and television stations, limiting their capacity to produce investigative reporting that is vital to our democracy. Yet advances in technology and research provide reporters more tools than ever to produce and distribute their work.
Against this backdrop, Investigative Post, a non-profit investigative reporting center serving Buffalo and Western New York, is hosting a speakers panel Oct. 23 at the Burchfield Penny Art Center to discuss the challenges and opportunities for investigative journalism in the 21st Century.
The panel, “The State of Investigative Reporting,” features David Cay Johnston, president of Investigative Reporters & Editors, the world’s premier investigative reporting organization with 4,200 members.
Johnston is a former Pulitzer Prize winner with The New York Times who previously reported for the San Jose Mercury, Detroit Free Press, Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written several best-selling books. His new release, “The Fine Print,” reveals how corporations rig the rules to thwart competition, inflate prices and endanger lives to boost their profits.
Other panelists include Jim Heaney, editor and executive director of Investigative Post; Jeff Woodard, news director of WGRZ TV News; Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative and co-founder of Little Sis; and Mary Pasciak, education reporter for The Buffalo News and a former member of the paper’s investigative reporting team.
The panel will be moderated by Joseph Finnerty, a First Amendment attorney and partner in Hiscock & Barclay.
Lee Coppola, a former investigative reporter and retired dean of the St. Bonaventure University School of Journalism, will offer opening remarks.
“There is a great deal of excellent investigative reporting taking place in individual markets around the country,” Johnston said, “but on the national level, and in many of our biggest cities, there have been severe cutbacks because of the internet interrupting the economic model of newspapers, which are first and foremost the source of investigative reporting.”
“The landscape is changing,” added Heaney, founder of Investigative Post. “We hope the panel discussion provides the public with an eye-opening opportunity to learn about and discuss the obstacles and opportunities.”
The session begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., in Buffalo. The event is free and open to the public.
The event coincides with the launch of Investigative Post’s membership drive, aimed at building grassroots support for hometown watchdog journalism.
Investigative Post began operations in February, the only non-profit investigative reporting center in upstate New York. It has a dual mission of providing citizens with high-quality investigative reporting and analysis on issues of importance to Buffalo and Western New York and training young journalists, particularly those of color, in the craft of watchdog journalism.
Investigative Post distributes content through its website, investigativepost.org, WGRZ TV News, Artvoice and WBFO-FM. It is developing partnerships with local colleges and universities to tap their expertise and research capabilities and to provide internships and other learning opportunities for journalism students.
Heaney, an award-winning investigative reporter with The Buffalo News for 25 years, founded Investigative Post. Board members include Coppola and Tom Toles, a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist at The Washington Post.