BRUSSELS - PBS ventures FRONTLINE and FRONTLINE/World have launched an online investigation into international bribery in conjunction with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and non-profit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica.

The site is called "The Business of Bribes". Over the next ten weeks, the joint project will "investigate the global impact of bribery, including complex financial systems to hide payments, and the systematic corruption of high-ranking foreign officials that contributes to the destabilization of the developing world," according to its website. The series will feature video, documents and print reports, including in-depth interviews with middlemen, prosecutors, whistleblowers and former presidents.

Deputy Director of the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program Marlena Telvick told the Editors Webslog that the site would also include web exclusive breaking news stories by its reporting team, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning Lowell Bergman, as well as stories published simultaneously in outlets such as The New York Times and ProPublica. The stories are intended to complement the upcoming April 7th broadcast of Bergman's latest documentary "Black Money" on PBS.

Funding for the project has been provided by Shell, the MacArthur foundation, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism amongst others. Increasingly, as media outlets make cutbacks, it seems that for in-depth investigative journalism to flourish it may well have to be funded by donations, and be online-based. Local privately funded sites such as VoiceOfSanDiego and MinnPost are already trying to fill the gaps in their communities, and although MinnPost has hopes of becoming financially independent of its donors, it has recently had to push back its break-even date by over a year. The US has been leading the way, but Europe is following with the recent launch of the European Fund for Investigative Journalism. Investigative journalism, with its focus on abuse of power, is fortunately one of the areas of journalism that is most likely to attract funding from philanthropists, given its importance to society.

Thanks to Emma Heald from Editors Weblog for allowing us to republish this article.

Wriiten by Emma Heald

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