Boston University Launches Pioneering Investigative Journalism Collaborative

in College of Communication, Humanities/Social Science, News Releases
January 15th, 2009

Contact: Richard Taffe, 617-353-4626 | rtaffe@bu.edu
Contact: Joe Bergantino, 617-353-4546 | jbergant@bu.edu

(Boston) — Boston University today launched the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR), the nation’s first university-based, multimedia investigative reporting collaborative focused on local and regional issues.

Based in the Journalism Department of BU’s College of Communication, NECIR will produce in-depth investigative news reports with its major media partners. They include the Boston Globe, the region’s most widely circulated newspaper; Boston.com, one of the most widely read newspaper Web sites in the nation; New England Cable News (NECN), the largest, most honored regional cable television station in the country; WBUR-FM, one of the country’s preeminent public radio stations; and New England Ethnic News, a Web-based news service for ethnic media. NECIR also will provide its partners with resources and assistance to help generate more investigative reporting in their newsrooms.

BU journalism students, working as reporter trainees, will help research stories, guided by a faculty of veteran journalists, including center directors and award-winning investigative reporters Joe Bergantino (ex-WBZ-TV) and Maggie Mulvihill (ex-Boston Herald, WBZ-TV); Mitch Zuckoff and Dick Lehr (ex-Boston Globe); Lou Ureneck (ex-Philadelphia Inquirer deputy managing editor); and College of Communication Dean Tom Fiedler (ex-Miami Herald editor, Pulitzer winner). A diverse group of Boston public high school students also will be given Center internships.

“This comes at a critical moment in American journalism when investigative journalism has become a luxury rather than a necessity in too many newsrooms,” said Fiedler. “Just as medical schools serve the dual purpose of training physicians while serving the health needs of patients, we believe that Boston University’s journalism program can train reporters while serving the community’s civic health.”

The non-partisan, non-profit center also will serve as a laboratory for experimenting with how best to deliver long-form investigative content to online audiences. Its investigative reports will be made available in forms suitable for newspapers, broadcast outlets, and online news sites and posted on the center’s interactive Web site, www.necir-bu.org.

“Investigative reporting is one of democracy’s most important tools for providing citizens with the information they need to hold the powerful accountable and make informed decisions,” said Bergantino. “Our goal is to boost the quantity and quality of such reporting in our region and help train the next generation of investigative journalists.”

NECIR is funded by its partners and private contributions and grants from foundations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes journalism excellence worldwide.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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