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Partnerships Keep Newspapers, TV News in Investigative Journalism Business

Newspapers, facing what could be even more dire financial straits than their TV brethren, are increasingly reaching out to television networks to partner on investigations. 60 Minutes recently joined forces with The Washington Post for a look into deplorable health care at U.S. detention centers opened in the wake of Sept. 11. It was the second in what will likely be multiple partnerships with the Post’s investigative unit.

“A lot of organizations are looking for collaborations because it helps with costs,” says Fager of 60 Minutes. “But for us, it’s about the story.”

ABC News and the Washington Times last week teamed on a story about veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder being used as guinea pigs to gauge the side effects of the controversial smoking cessation drug Chantix on people with psychological disorders. (See videos below.) The veterans were not told that among the Pfizer drug’s documented side effects are a host of nightmarish symptoms, including seizures and suicidal behavior. (The Veterans Administration, responding to the ABC News/Washington Times investigation, said on June 19, that they will inform 32,000 veterans about the full range of Chantix side effects.)

John Solomon, who was named executive editor of the Washington Times in January after many years as an investigative reporter for The Associated Press and The Washington Post, contacted ABC’s Ross about the Chantix story, according to Ross. Solomon has also been in touch with CBS News for a possible collaboration, according to people there.

“We’re open to any good story that comes along,” Ross says. “This way, we can be in place and do our own work so that we’re not just chasing someone else’s work.”