ProPublica editor cheers philanthropy in First Amendment Awards speech

Advocacy, Awards,

Stephen Engelberg

The economic challenges of journalism are “grim” and “real,” said Stephen Engelberg, editor of ProPublica. But the success of ProPublica has offered another model that can help support democracy. 

While accepting an RTDNA Foundation First Amendment Award in Washington, Engelberg shared the story of ProPublica and how it grew from an idea a husband and wife had to a force in the journalism world that exposed ethics scandals at the Supreme Court. 

“Philanthropy allows you to do some remarkable things,” said 

Engelberg detailed ProPublica’s investigation into Harlan Crowe’s gifts to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, which were not disclosed in any of Thomas’ ethics disclosures. 

“And I should say here is a career investigative reporter and editor:, the business model is terrible,” he said. “The tools right now are the best they've ever been. The things we can use to find things out are staggeringly good.”

Watch his full speech below:

(Photo: BP Miller / Chorus Photography)