NPQ and Rick and the Future

NPQ’s guiding philosophy is that an active, engaged, and sometimes disruptive civil sector is critical to a healthy democracy, as is a free and independent press. We intend to honor Rick’s work and our collective intention to promote the civil sector by remaining a critical, untethered journalistic presence.

RickCohen2You may have noticed that NPQ has not, until now, addressed our readers directly about the death of Rick Cohen. On a personal level, we still cannot yet do it. It would be impossible for us to fully express our sense of loss. He was an integral part of what NPQ is, bringing with him the highest journalistic standards. In a sector where many believe you must go along to get along, he saw—and we see—that kind of silence as holding back the advancement of social justice and equity and interfering with healthy democracy. Rick was a reporter in the tradition of I.F. Stone: not letting personal relationships or risk stand in the way of seeking out the truth, never falling for an unexplored assumption, always looking for the context that created the reality. He was unstinting as a researcher and an inconceivably fast and thorough writer, but he also showed incredible patience in letting a story unfold while never losing grasp of it.

And then he was gone in an instant.

What I do want to let readers know is that this happened just as our board had been planning for an expansion of the investigative and policy work he had anchored for all these many years. We were (for a change) not in immediate financial crisis, and not even a week before he died he spent time with Chuck Bell, the NPQ board chair, sketching out his ideas for what we’d need to do to increase the power of our policy and investigative work. We three then sat with the board to consider how those ideas would be advanced.

So now we have a blueprint, albeit with a terrible hole in the middle of it, and we do intend to honor it—to honor Rick’s work and our collective intention to promote the civil sector by being a critical, untethered journalistic presence. Because Rick wasn’t here at NPQ by accident.

On Monday, you will hear from Chuck Bell, the NPQ board chair, reflecting on where we will go from here.

—Joel Toner, Publisher

—Ruth McCambridge, Editor in Chief