Catch up: Robert Rosenthal’s wisdom

Consider this your cheat sheet on the US investigative guru’s Australia visit—we’ve rounded up all the podcasts and reading in one handy place.

In late August and early September, we hosted a very special guest. Robert Rosenthal is a board member and an executive producer at the Center for Investigative Reporting in California. An award-winning journalist, he has worked for some of the US’ most respected newspapers including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Chronicle. He went on to run the non-profit CIR; taking it from a staff of six and a budget of under a million dollars in 2008, to today’s award-winning, multimedia public service news organisation with a staff of 70 and a budget of over $10 million annually.

We took Robert around the country for a series of five industry roundtable conversations with Aussie journalists and editors, where we discussed how we should be working differently to sustain quality journalism. (Check out the discussion paper here). Robert also joined public discussion events in Sydney and Melbourne. (Image above: Robert Rosenthal, Gerard Goggin and Alice Brennan speak at the University of Sydney. Photo: Lauren Katsikitis.)

Robert was really generous in sharing his experiences with the non-profit model for funding journalism in the US, and in talking more broadly about the crucial importance of collaboration to produce great investigations and public service journalism.

Reflecting on his visit, Robert said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations and meetings with journalists and their supporters across Australia. Every talk left me energised and optimistic. They were a reminder of the global family that journalists are part of. I could see and feel the energy for potential new models of public service journalism and collaborations that would serve the interests of the people of Australia.

“The role of a free press has never been more important around the world. The best journalists are risk takers. They stand up and protect the most vulnerable and understand what it is to face down inappropriate actions by those who hold power. Change is not easy but I hope Australian journalism and those that support it think about how they can make a difference rather than why they can’t.”

There’s a lot to take in, so consider this your catch-up cheat sheet—we’ve rounded up all the podcasts and reading for you in one handy place.

LISTEN: Journalism’s New Bottom Line: Impact

In a world disrupted by technology and global shifts, truth and quality journalism have never been more important. While legacy media brands work to adjust, new models for journalism are emerging. From projects built on collaborations that span borders and media organisations, to newsrooms funded by philanthropy. A common thread of this brave new world is public interest journalism, where the bottom line is less about dollars and more about impact.

Robert appears with Alice Brennan (ABC Background Briefing) and Gerard Goggin (University of Sydney) in this public talk, presented with Sydney Ideas on Thursday 6 September 2018.

LISTEN: Investigative journalism changes lives and laws. But who pays for it?

Exposing corruption and abuse; pushing for changes to law and policy that protect everyday Australians: that’s the power of great investigative journalism. It’s work that takes a lot of time, investment and skill from journalists: three things that are under more pressure than ever in today’s media. How can we support the future of this important work?

This episode of the Walkley Talks Podcast was recorded in Melbourne on September 4, 2018. In this conversation presented by the Walkley Foundation and RMIT, you’ll hear Robert Rosenthal along with Sushi Das (RMIT/ABC Fact Check), Stephen Drill (Herald Sun) and participating moderator Michael Bachelard (The Age).

LISTEN: Fourth Estate: Robert J Rosenthal talks Trump and Journalism

Peter Fray interviews Robert for the Fourth Estate program. Click here for audio.

READ: Profits beyond dollars

Illustration by Daniel Garcia

Illustration by Daniel Garcia

Robert wrote for The Walkley Magazine about building a business model for nonprofit journalism, where the return on investment is measured in impact.

“I am a passionate proponent for this new model. In today’s world, media and journalism are confused. Much of media today is entertainment, opinion driven, or based on business models forged and founded on fostering divisive partisan political agendas.

“Journalism and a free press must be supported by those who believe in democracy. The best journalism is done to make sure the people are still in charge. We are not subjects, we are citizens. Subjects are told what to do, citizens tell their government what to do.”

Read the full story here. (Illustration by Daniel Garcia)

Follow Rosey

You can keep up with Robert’s work via his Twitter (@Rosey18), and follow Reveal News from the Center for Investigative Reporting on their website (

Thanks for your support:

For helping us bring Robert to Australia:

For helping us host industry conversations with Robert in five cities:

For helping us spread the word about Robert’s public events:

Our Melbourne event partner:

Our Sydney event partner: