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Reuters to distribute Health News Florida articles

The global news service Thomson Reuters announced today that it will add 30 members of the Investigative News Network – including Health News Florida – to its media platform.

This step provides a news-distribution system that has been missing for INN members, all of which are non-profit online publications reporting on issues of public interest.

"This is really great news," said Health News Florida Board President Kim Walsh-Childers. "Investigative reporting represents the heart of journalism’s true purpose in a democracy."

Walsh-Childers, professor of journalism at University of Florida, added: "Thomson Reuters has an outstanding reputation in the journalism industry, so having the opportunity to have Health News Florida’s investigative stories distributed through the Reuters network demonstrates the value and credibility of the work we do...

"Given the economic strain for-profit news organizations are facing today, many just don’t have the resources to do the kind of expensive investigative projects they would like to do," she said. "Not-for-profit journalism organizations like Health News Florida are filling in some of those gaps, and this partnership with Reuters and INN recognizes the value of that work. That sort of recognition should help to show our current and potential funders that their investments in HNF are paying off in terms of benefits to the public."

Of the group that Reuters will add, the best-known are the Center for Public Integrityin Washington, D.C. and the Center for Investigative Reportingin Berkeley, CA. But some of the 30 are small, like Health News Floridaand Broward Bulldog.

“It’s important because it’s a potential source of significant revenue for these not-for-profit news services,” said Broward Bulldog founder and editor Dan Christensen. “We’re looking for a way to get our (articles) out and make some money.

“I’m glad it has finally arrived,” he said, while noting that members aren’t clear yet on how much money may be available.

Broward Bulldog obtained start-up funds from an individual donor, its web site says, and has continued to raise money from advertisers and individuals.

By contrast, Health News Florida has been operating since March 2007 on foundation grants (seeAbout Us), with some advertising revenue as well. Both sites post articles on public websites, available at no charge.

Christensen and Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry both are long-time newspaper reporters who say they founded the news services to plug gaps in coverage of important public issues, as declining newspaper revenues brought massive layoffs and shrinking staffs.

While HNF frequently publishes shorter breaking news stories, like this one, the Reuters distribution system will be geared more toward its investigative work. A recent example is a series of articles on how the Florida Department of Health is slow to take action against doctors who are in trouble and even slower to put any alert about the trouble on its "license lookup" web site for consumers.

Two of those articles were: DOH flying blind on crimeand   DEA takes licenses, but doctors still practicing

Thomson Reuters, which operates in more than 100 countries, said it added the Investigative News Network’s long-form investigative journalism to its media platform as part of its mission to create a “one-stop news shop” for publishers and broadcasters.

“Publishers are telling us investigative news is extremely valuable, but seems to be the first thing cut when resources get tight,” Chris Ahearn, president of Media for Thomson Reuters, was quoted as saying in a release.

“The new relationship with INN is another step towards addressing the market’s need and providing our clients with stories they won’t find anywhere else.”

Kevin Davis, chief executive officer of INN, said, “Investigative reporting is at the forefront of our mission, and we’re excited to expand our reach and serve Reuters clients around the globe.”

INN was formed last year to connect and support the growing number of non-profit news organizations that produce nonpartisan investigative and public service journalism on a local, regional and national basis.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.