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As Media Changes, POGO Hires Reflect Journalistic Ambitions As Media Changes, POGO Hires Reflect Journalistic Ambitions

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As Media Changes, POGO Hires Reflect Journalistic Ambitions

May 16, 2012
The watchdog group Project on Government Oversight has hired Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter John Crewdson as its senior investigator and taken another step toward a more journalistic approach to its work. 

POGO recently hired longtime Washington Post staffer David Hilzenrath to serve as its editor-in-chief. Even the title of Hilzenrath's post - which was formerly the director of investigations - evinces journalism.

"All the moves reflect an expanded vision and increased journalistic ambitions," Hilzenrath said.

POGO has a decades-long history of doing watchdog investigations, but traditionally it would give its research to a media organization to report or issue a press release on its findings. 

That's changing, right along with the media landscape. 

Although it has not finalized its plans, POGO may try to follow a ProPublicaesque model of nonprofit journalism. It's exploring social media to find a broader audience for its work and may try to publish its stories in traditional media outlets with a POGO byline. 

"There are other options than just appearing in the mainstream media," POGO spokesman Joe Newman said.

Newman said POGO's shift reflects the emergence of nonprofit journalism as traditional media outlets have trimmed staff and resources. He emphasized that POGO is not taking any pleasure in seeing newspapers offering buyouts or laying off reporters, but that the group is trying to supplement the resulting loss of coverage.

"It's really opened up the door for new ways of approaching journalism," he said. "The times are changing, journalism is changing and we're looking at ways to fill the gap."

One aspect of POGO that separates it from traditional media outlets is that it maintains an advocacy side. Hilzenrath said the journalistic work would remain separate from any advocacy efforts, likening it to the division between the newsroom and the editorial page at a newspaper.
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