March 22, 2011; Source: Politico | Ask any of the hundreds of newspapers that have shut down over the last several years if starting a new online journalism project is a good way for a nonprofit to diversify its funding stream, and odds are they’d be skeptical at best. But that’s just what the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity intends to do.

CPI has just unveiled its plans to create a new daily online investigative newspaper, scheduled to debut next month. The new product will likely be called iWatch or Integrity Watch, according to the Washington Business Journal, and will feature 10 to 20 original investigative stories per day about “corruption, political ethics, corporate accountability, ‘truth watching,’ and waste, fraud and abuse.”

CPI isn’t just any old nonprofit dabbling in the news business. It’s been doing investigative journalism for 22 years – long before nonprofit journalism became so, ahem, cool. With a huge vacuum in the daily investigative department, CPI hopes to slide in and capture a niche market. They’re hoping that market will pay $50 a year (tax deductible) for full access to multiple investigative stories every day. By comparison, the New York Times is now charging between $200 and $450 dollars a year for digital subscription plan. Admittedly, the two products may be apples and oranges.

With 40 full-time journalists already on staff and their International Consortium of Journalists project bringing in over 100 collaborators from around the world, the CPI product promises to be a strong one. Another nice touch from CPI is that it will be using HTML5 – which it has been using for some time – to create the product, making it readable on any digital device with a web browser.

As we’ve been doing a lot for the past several years, let’s wait and see. And hope, that CPI’s new revenue generator works to help bolster the important journalism they’ve been doing for decades.—Aaron Lester