Huff Post Hires ‘Wash Post’ Editor to Head New Investigations Unit

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By: Greg Mitchell

The Huffington Post has hired Lawrence Roberts, investigations editor at The Washington Post since 2004, to head a new Investigative Fund. Arianna Huffington, Chair of the Fund’s Advisory Board and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, and Nick Penniman, Executive Director of the Fund, made the announcement this morning.

The move may well be viewed as a symbol of the decline of newspapers or at least online news sites coming of age. Said Roberts: “With all the financial pressures roiling newspapers, it makes sense to replicate their public service and investigative mission in the nonprofit world. I’m excited to be joining Nick and Arianna in this important venture.”

Launched in March with an initial budget of $1.75 million, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund is a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative whose goal is to produce multimedia investigations.

“We are delighted to have Larry on board,” said Arianna Huffington in a release. “Larry’s background in investigative journalism — including being part of three Pulitzer-winning teams — as well as his experience in online journalism make him an ideal pick to spearhead the Investigative Fund. Plus, his experience as a business editor is perfectly aligned with the Investigative Funds initial focus on covering the economic crisis.”

More from the release follows.

Roberts has served as Investigations Editor at the Washington Post since 2004. During his tenure there, he helped direct coverage of the Abramoff lobbying scandal, a series on Vice President Dick Cheney, and a stream of stories about the waste and abuse in farm subsidies. The Cheney and Abramoff investigations each won Pulitzer prizes, and the farm series was a finalist for the Pulitzer gold medal.

Roberts joined The Post in 1995 as one of the founding editors of its website. He then migrated to the business section as an editor before joining the investigative unit. Before The Post, Roberts was projects editor at The Hartford Courant, where he directed an investigation of the flawed Hubble Space Telescope that won the paper its first Pulitzer Prize. He has also served as UPI’s bureau chief in Madrid.

“We’re honored that Larry will be joining our team, helping us bring the tools of the new media to investigative journalism,” said Nick Penniman. “Integral to this process will be making sure that good reporting has the impact that it deserves.

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund will produce a broad range of investigative journalism, ranging from long-form investigations to short breaking news stories that will be presented in a variety of media — including text, audio and video. Stories will be free for any media outlet to publish simultaneously. In addition to a full-time editorial staff of 10, the fund plans to spend a substantial part of its resources on freelance investigative journalists, many of whom have been laid off due to the current downturn.

The Fund will leverage The Huffington Post’s large audience, along with the growing audience of other online news outlets, and will also provide a higher profile for the work of existing investigative reporting outfits with which it will partner, including: including: the Center for Public Integrity, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Spot.Us, NYU School of Journalism, and the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University Journalism School. Additionally, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund will work closely with Eyes & Ears, The Huffington Posts citizen journalism project, harnessing the power of HuffPosts engaged readers to yield research, insights, and information.

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