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Welcome to the Starting Line

Dear Readers:

Five months ago, ProPublica was an idea, a rudimentary Web site and a nearly empty office in Lower Manhattan. Today, we take our first concrete step in building an investigative publishing platform that will produce original stories focusing on betrayal of the public trust and abuse of power.

Our goal is to do stories that would otherwise escape notice and to follow up on work done by others that demands change or is being overlooked.

This is the beginning of what we see as an experiment and we invite your comments and suggestions on stories, or on how we can make our organization more useful to readers.

We have nearly completed our hiring (more than 20 out of perhaps 27 news staff) and reporters are at work on some promising avenues of inquiry. You will see those results in the months ahead.

In the meantime, we offer what we hope will be a thorough, thought-provoking look at investigative stories that are breaking elsewhere.

  • Each business day, under the heading 'Breaking on the Web,' we'll aggregate (assemble, digest and link to) all the investigative journalism we can find being produced in the U.S. in English. Whether you're a reporter, editor, or just an interested reader, we welcome your help in compiling the stories. Please send suggestions to suggestions@propublica.org.
  • In some cases, we'll analyze, comment and follow up on these stories. Eric Umansky and Paul Kiel will lead this effort on our staff, assisted by our reporting and research team.
  • We have tried to make our stories and those from elsewhere easily sortable. For example, if you want to focus on articles about national security, you can get an RSS feed -- or soon an email -- with only those stories.
  • We're also starting a feature we're calling 'Scandal Watch'. It will track the top five investigations (other than our own) at any given moment, selected by our editors and ranked by intensity of coverage.
  • Soon, the Web site will also feature our own investigations, some of them in short-form, some much more ambitious. Our longer 'deep dive' stories will most often be published in cooperation with one or more partners. These stories will usually debut on our partners' sites, but we'll link to their treatment of the stories, and often supplement them with additional materials for the web.

Again, we see this as a conversation. Please send your reactions, comments and suggestions to feedback@propublica.org. Thanks for joining us, and for reading.

Paul Steiger and Steve Engelberg

Carol Underwood

June 10, 2008, 4:57 p.m.

Best wishes for big success with your ground breaking efforts.  The site looks slick and rich. 
With the currect circumstances are you sure five scandals will be enough.  The current administration is rather prolific.

Congratulations on launching! I sincerely hope that your ‘experiment’ is successful. I believe that your undertaking is necessary for the good of the fourth estate (not to mention the country). Cheers, and thanks!

We’ve been waiting… in anticipation of lots of disinfecting sunlight!  Kudos, and best wishes.

Wishing you a big success. As newspapers continue to weaken, it will be a huge public service if you can deliver the kind of important investigative work web revenues cannot (currently) fund.

One cautionary observation: I see your advisory board is loaded with folks who represent the very media whose economic failures make your enterprise necessary.

I hope you’ll be able not only to ask hard questions about the powers that be in the public sphere, but that you take a fresh look at what investigative reporting means—and can be—in a digital era. I’m not certain the folks on your advisory board are prepared to do so. 

If ProPublica produces 150-inch, five-part series with dead graphics—no matter how consequential—it will miss an important opportunity to serve not only the public, but the future of journalism as well.

Craig - I agree and we have been spending the past months, in addition to building the site, thinking long and hard about what investigative journalism means and should be in the digital era. It’s certainly going to be a learning process on our part, but we’re dedicated to taking advantage of the new possibilities.

-Eric
Senior Writer
ProPublica

Johannes Kuhn

June 13, 2008, 5:30 a.m.

All the best to you! I agree with Craig, you should really think how to transform this into the internet age. Europe is curious to see what you will be doing. Good luck!
- Joha

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