By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Richard Tofel

Source: ProPublica

The general manager of the national non-profit investigative news organization ProPublica told an audience of area business officials this week that the future of news will depend on a successful transition to online platforms.

“The bottom line is that a time will come when publishers will lead rather than retard the transition from print to online,” said Richard Tofel. “For fifteen years, they’ve been trying to hold back that tide.”

Tofel, who spoke Tuesday at the Free Enterprise Forum’s annual luncheon, said ProPublica was formed to help strengthen the ability of newspapers to continue to perform investigative journalism. The group’s work appears in papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as its own website.

In 2010, ProPublica won a Pulitzer Prize for an investigative story on how one New Orleans hospital operated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The site is supported through large charitable donations as well as individual ones. Readers are encouraged to donate to support investigative reporting, which Tofel said has been reduced by many news organizations.

“If you cut resources back, and you think about how to run a newspaper, you have to cover city hall, and you have to cover schools and you have to cover local sports teams,” Tofel said. “Investigative journalism is not one of the things you have to do.”

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