Here's a press release headline that's likely to be recycled many times: "Nonprofit Institute Hires Investigative Journalist." Just add the names of the nonprofit and the journalist, and you've got another story about the future of watchdog journalism in the post-newspaper era.
Now here's a test: What if the institute in question was a right-wing think tank that got its money from a national group dedicated to cutting health and welfare programs and to opposing safety and environmental regulations? Is that okay? Is it still journalism?
That's exactly the situation in Phoenix, where the Goldwater Institute recently hired former newspaper reporter Mark Flatten to "research, investigate and expose government corruption and abuse," according to a statement from CEO Darcy Olsen. A news article notes that the money to hire Flatten came from the State Policy Network, which describes itself as "the capacity building service organization for America's free market, state-focused think tank community."
Read the rest of this post at Nieman Journalism Lab.