To Berkeley for the #logansymposium2015, an investigative journalism conference funded by the Reva & David Logan Foundation, which has been a major historic backer of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Lowell Bergman’s Investigative Reporting Program at the university.
One of the most impactful comments for me came from one of the more discreet participants, Elspeth Revere from the influential MacArthur Foundation [fully, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation], a backer of Public Integrity. In a closing panel on the future of investigative reporting, she gave three measures for how she looks at the value of MacArthur grants to investigative reporting outfits, adding “we’re not very measurement oriented”.
She said she looks first at “reach” but based on the recipient’s own metrics, not new metrics imposed by her group. Secondly she looks at “prestigious prizes” to reflect industry and professional recognition of quality. Thirdly, and she recognized most long term: policy change.
Reassuringly, Elspeth, in regard to support for investigative journalism, said “no one questions your right to be in this”, adding she felt investigative journalism was “one of the very good uses of philanthropic money”.
Measurement of impact and a focus on dissemination of investigative reporting to the widest possible audience are huge issues for donors and nonprofit investigative outlets right now, driven in large part by pressure on donors for greater evidence of their own effectiveness.