Investigative Reporting Productions, Inc., partners with UC Berkeley

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Investigative Reporting Productions, Inc., a nonprofit production company associated with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, established a formal affiliation with UC Berkeley over the weekend, according to a press release.

The agreement is the first of its kind, and aims to bolster the Investigative Reporting Program’s ability to pursue various revenue sources, capitalize on the content they produce and have more journalistic and financial freedoms. Investigative Reporting Productions, Inc., is intended to increase financial stability for the Investigative Reporting Program, making the latter a more self-sustained enterprise and able to train new investigative journalists.

Since its inception in 2006, the Investigative Reporting Program has relied on the support of broadcasters such as Frontline and Univision, as well as independent philanthropy from foundations and donors, such as David and Reva Logan. The production department allows the Investigative Reporting Program to have a more flexible model in which they can hire producers, freelancers and editors as needed to produce content that supports the program and becomes a source of employment and ongoing revenue.

Lowell Bergman, director of the Investigative Reporting Program, said the greatest conflicts of interests the program faced were not regarding content they covered, but instead about the ethics of a faculty member raising money — which Bergman received a special waiver for from Chancellor Dirks.

“Generally speaking, our editorial focus is stories no one else is doing,” Bergman said.  

The Investigative Reporting Program’s managing editor, John Temple, said the production company does not need to seek the campus’s approval for projects, as it was established to benefit both entities. Letting the campus know when they are working on something that affects the campus, however, is a standard practice.

“This partnership with Investigative Reporting Productions… will serve to extend Berkeley’s public mission as we join an essential effort to provide the public with information and insights that are critical for our democracy,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof in an email. “This venture will also help to further diversify the University’s sources of revenue that can be used to support the Graduate School of Journalism as well as strengthen our impact on civil society.”

Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, said he was excited to see a robust demand for smart, high-quality nonfiction programming in the television, cable and online industries. He said he hopes the collaboration will support excellent journalism and make money — keeping investors happy, and sustaining the program and Graduate School of Journalism.

“We will follow newsworthy stories wherever they lead,” Wasserman said. “I don’t think (Investigative Reporting Productions, Inc.) would shrink from stories that would set off (the) university.”

Bergman said the commercial program, and its affiliation with the university, is an experiment, but they hope it will be a successful one.

Contact Ani Vahradyan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.