April 4, 2010; New York Times | It’s not just U.S. newspapers that are in economic freefall—and looking to the nonprofit sector for help. In the UK, newspapers are also being “hollowed out”, replacing investigative reporting with articles based on press releases or celebrity chasing.

A former reporter for the Sunday Times of London, Elaine Potter and her husband, who happens to be a founder of a software company, have given $3 million from their foundation to set up the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, modeled on the nonprofit ProPublica here in the U.S. The managing editor has hired 15 mostly freelance journalists to dig into domestic and international stories and has been promised full editorial independence from the foundation.

The Bureau hopes to become financially self-sufficient, though the business model that will get them there isn’t clear from the NYT article. Will British philanthropy create an income-generating endowment to help the nonprofit Bureau reach self-sufficiency, or will the Bureau find itself having to request philanthropic support on an annual basis just like everyone else?—Rick Cohen