ProPublica’s 60 Minutes of Infamy?

otr3 0 ProPublicas 60 Minutes of Infamy?ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative news outfit run by former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger, needs exposure to, well, the public. And so Mr. Steiger said when he launched the Web site last spring that the idea was for his reporters to syndicate their stories—free of charge!—to other news outlets.

ProPublica has farmed out 48 reports to news agencies over the past eight months, and 60 Minutes was the first it worked with.

Back in June, ProPublica worked on a story that aired on 60 Minutes about Al-Hurra, an Arab television network bankrolled by the U.S. government that’s been something of a disaster—to the expense of the taxpayer.

Sounds like enterprise pay dirt!

But after this past Sunday, you’d reasonably think that that might be their last coproduction. Scott Pelley, a 60 Minutes correspondent, opened a segment on this week’s show with a question: “How did the mortgage industry destroy itself and set off an economic collapse that ruined the finances of millions of Americans?”

Look no further than World Savings Bank and its former owners, Herbert and Marion Sandler. For the next 13 minutes, Mr. Pelley reported relentlessly on the Sandlers as the twin perpetrators of the mortgage industry collapse.

Mr. and Mrs. Sandler, incidentally, are the investors behind ProPublica, who reportedly invest up to $10 million a year to support Mr. Steiger’s venture.

So we decided to check in with Mr. Steiger to see how things were doing with 60 Minutes and ProPublica.

“I don’t see it as affecting that at all,” he said of the future relationship.

When asked a follow-up question, Mr. Steiger replied, “I just think I want to leave it there. I don’t want to go into a long discussion of this. I don’t see it as a problem with future relations.”

jkoblin@observer.com