The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a bilingual investigative nonprofit serving the Sunshine State, has received a $100,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
The grant, representing Ethics and Excellence in Journalism’s first to a Florida-based watchdog, will help fund a nonprofit, digital and bilingual investigative journalism organization.
Based in Oklahoma City, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation also has provided startup funding for several investigative nonprofits nationwide, including the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and InvestigateWest in Seattle, Wash.
Founded in 1982 by the late Edith Kinney Gaylord, a trailblazing journalist who was the first woman to work as a general news staffer at the Associated Press in Washington, D.C., the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation supports projects designed to improve the quality and ethical standards of journalism.
“We’re excited to fund the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting at a time when financial challenges threaten the quality and quantity of investigative journalism,” said Bob Ross, president and CEO of the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “The center’s mission to serve as a watchdog in Florida and produce journalism in both English and Spanish is unique and inspiring.”
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting’s mission is to work in Florida’s public interest by exposing corruption, waste and miscarriages of justice. The FCIR’s office is located at the International Media Center, a nonprofit program at Florida International University dedicated to training journalists in Latin America.
The English- and Spanish-language investigative journalism of FCIR will be published online and through media partners.
“We’re thrilled that Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation has the commitment to watchdog reporting and the vision to support us in reaching new and diverse audiences in Florida,” said Sharon Rosenhause, retired managing editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and president of FCIR’s board of directors.
FCIR’s board also includes Barbara Petersen, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee; Joe Adams, an editorial writer for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and author of The Florida Public Records Handbook; Dr. Stephanie Tripp, a digital media theorist at the University of Tampa; Mercedes Vigón, associate director of the International Media Center in North Miami; and Sanford L. Bohrer, a partner in the Holland & Knight law firm’s Miami office.
A journalism advisory committee also will support FCIR’s efforts. Its members include Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in investigative and enterprise reporting at the University of Illinois and chair of the Investigative News Network; John Virtue, an author, journalist and director of the International Media Center in North Miami; Manny Garcia, executive editor of El Nuevo Herald in Miami; Neil Reisner, a journalism professor at Florida International University; Lea Thompson, former chief correspondent for NBC’s Dateline and a board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors; Patrick Manteiga, editor and publisher of La Gaceta, a trilingual newspaper in Tampa; Dr. Scott Paine, chair of the University of Tampa’s Department of Communications; and David Donald, data editor at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
The organization’s founding editors and reporters are Mc Nelly Torres and Trevor Aaronson, accomplished Florida journalists who will serve as the associate directors of FCIR. Torres, a board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, has worked at the Sun-Sentinel and San Antonio Express-News. Aaronson, an Investigative Reporting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, has worked at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and Village Voice Media in South Florida.
“Nonprofit investigative journalism centers are ensuring that community watchdog reporting gets done even while the mainstream media is shrinking,” said Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois.
“Foundation support is crucial to the successful start-up of these centers,” added Houston, who also heads the board of directors for the Investigative News Network. “And Ethics and Excellence has played a key role in providing that support across the country.”
The Investigative News Network is a national association of 40 nonprofit journalism organizations that produce watchdog reporting in the public interest. FCIR is a member.
In addition to the $100,000 Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation grant, FCIR has received project grants from the Washington, D.C.-based Fund for Investigative Journalism for individual stories being worked on by Torres and Aaronson.
FCIR will begin publishing investigative journalism later this year.
Now in process of applying for 501(c)3 federal tax-exempt status, FCIR is using Tampa-based nonprofit Public Communications as a temporary fiscal sponsor. All contributions to FCIR are tax-deductible.