Center gets $1.5M investment into ICIJ

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I’m delighted to announce a major new investment in international investigative journalism from an Australian benefactor. Internet entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist Graeme Wood from Queensland has pledged $1.5 million to The Center for Public Integrity over the next three years to help build capacity for our International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). 

These funds — the largest gift from an individual in ICIJ’s 15-year history — will be used to bolster cross-border investigations, help launch a new research desk and create an international investigative journalism fellowship program. 

Graeme Wood is the founder of the online publication The Global Mail. He is also the key backer of The Guardian newspaper’s new digital edition in Australia, and founder of Wotif.com, Australia’s leading travel website. An environmentalist and advocate of government transparency, Wood has launched Wild Mob, a not-for-profit, non-political organization focused on environmental conservation. He was also elected a member of the Center for Public Integrity’s Board of Directors at our June 21 meeting in New York. 

The Global Mail will become the first institutional member of ICIJ as part of an initiative to link other media outlets with the consortium. ICIJ plans to add about ten such institutional memberships from around the world over the next two years. 

ICIJ has been recognized most recently as the journalistic organization that cracked open the historically impenetrable world of offshore tax havens with its massive offshore leaks project, Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze, based on a cache of 2.5 million leaked files. The project has already had an enormous global impact, along with the release of the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database, which allows users to search through more than 100,000 secret companies, trusts, and funds created in offshore locales such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, and Singapore.

ICIJ is made up of 160 investigative reporters in 60 countries. The year-long ICIJ Global Investigative Journalism Fellowship program, launched thanks to Wood’s gift, will provide investigative training for international journalism fellows beginning early next year.

And, the ICIJ research desk is expected to be up and running this fall. The desk and associated data library will be a go-to resource for ICIJ reporters and its new institutional members. 

On behalf of The Center for Public Integrity and ICIJ, I can truly say we are tremendously motivated by Mr. Wood’s gift. A new research desk, fellowship program, and above all more reporting capacity will fortify ICIJ’s unique cross-border investigative work. I believe this level of investigative journalism is more vital than ever, with a larger audience than ever before, too, but it is not free to produce. Support from dozens of foundations and thousands of individuals, from small gifts to large ones such as Graeme Wood’s, are what keep us in business. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.

Until next week,

Bill