Whether the non-profit model for investigative journalism ultimately catches fire, the best of the current non-profit organizations doing in-depth reporting is Pro-Publica. I previously called your attention to Pro Publica’s incredible cooperative reporting effort with the New York Times, written and reported by Sheri Fink, detailing the struggle for survival inside Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina.
And now another: Pro-Publica reporter Sharona Coutts has written a detailed and compelling report about abuses at the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit university that relies heavily on on-line instruction. The report details mind-boggling recruiting and financial aid abuses.
One reason I get excited about the Pro-Publica model, even though it may be short-lived, is that it is almost impossible to imagine a major media outlet covering a story like this with substantial human and financial resources. Yet it is a story that must see the light of day in an economy in which countless prospective students are desperately seeking the training they need to keep their head above water.
Pro Publica deserves a real pat on the back.