I was sorry to hear that the Center for Public Integrity is in danger of shutting down. Although some observers are going to portray the center’s woes as further evidence that we are in the midst of a news meltdown, I suspect the answer is simpler than that. There’s only so much room for a nationally focused nonprofit investigative reporting organization, and ProPublica has sucked up most of the oxygen. ProPublica was founded in 2007; the lower-profile CPI dates back all the way to 1989.

CPI’s editor-in-chief, Matt DeRenzio, has already left, according to Benjamin Mullin’s account in The New York Times. I got to know Matt about a dozen years ago, when he was editor of the New Haven Register. He’s a good guy, and I hope he lands on his feet.

My friend and former Boston Phoenix colleague Kristen Lombardi, the finest reporter I’ve ever worked with, was on staff at CPI for a number of years, where she helped to report a series of stories about sexual abuse on college campuses. When Rolling Stone’s infamous story about an alleged rape victim at the University of Virginia fell apart, the Columbia School of Journalism conducted an in-depth post-mortem — and interviewed Kristen on how to do such sensitive reporting the right way. Kristen now runs Columbia’s postgraduate reporting program.

The full story of what happened to CPI may be yet to come out. According to the Times, the just-departed chief executive, Paul Cheung, has been accused by an employee of financial misbehavior, which Cheung has denied. According to tax records I looked up at GuideStar, Cheung received about $318,000 in total compensation in 2022 — maybe in line with a nonprofit of CPI’s size, but a lot of money given that the organization was already spending more than it was taking in.

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