Buzzfeed hires Pulitzer winner Mark Schoofs to head new investigative unit

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Mark Schoofs. ()
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Buzzfeed is starting an investigative reporting unit, and announced this afternoon that they've hired Mark Schoofs, an investigative journalist with a Pulitzer Prize under his belt who has worked the past two years as a senior editor at ProPublica.

Schoofs will lead a unit of six reporters devoted to digging up big exposes.

“We plan to mix BuzzFeed’s energy, ambition and grasp of the social web with the best traditions of American investigative reporting to expose wrongdoing, hold people accountable and tell stories that need to be told,” Schoofs said in a written statement.

Last week, Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti told an interviewer from Wired about the new desk, without getting into specifics.

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"We are very proud of the quality of our long form content, we have built a top flight news desk, we hired a foreign editor and correspondents around the world, and we are building an investigative journalism team," he said. "And we've become profitable while making these investments."

The new investigative desk is the latest in a seemingly endless series of expansions for Buzzfeed, which brought Ben Smith over from Politico at the beginning of 2012 to add originally reported news content and aggregation to a site already well known for captivating Facebookers and Twitter users with listicles and pictures of cute animals.

Today, Buzzfeed is a massive reporting engine covering politics, gay issues, business, entertainment and more.

Schoofs' Putlizer was awarded in 2000 for his eight-part report on the AIDS crisis in Africa in The Village Voice, where he was a staff reporter and columnist. He's also worked at The Wall Street Journal, which he left for ProPublica in July of 2011.

Schoofs' start date at BuzzFeed was left unspecified beyond "later this year."

Here's the full text of Buzzfeed's announcement, which came over the transom just after 4 p.m.:

New York, NY October 21, 2013 — BuzzFeed announced a major new investment in hard news with the creation of an investigations unit, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Schoofs. Schoofs will build and lead a new team of investigative reporters, and will work with BuzzFeed’s growing teams of journalists across a wide array of topics.

“Mark is the best in the business — a brilliant reporter, teacher, storyteller with the sort of deep experience we need as we continue to expand the kind of rigorous reporting that people want to read and share,” said Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief. “He’s a creative, entrepreneurial guy with long-ago roots in the vital gay press and an endless curiosity about the changing medium.”

“Jonah and Ben have created a news media juggernaut, and I’m thrilled to join it,” said Schoofs. “We plan to mix BuzzFeed’s energy, ambition and grasp of the social web with the best traditions of American investigative reporting to expose wrongdoing, hold people accountable and tell stories that need to be told.”

Schoofs will lead an investigative team of about half a dozen reporters, and will also bring his experience and skill to writers and editors across BuzzFeed’s 130-person newsroom. BuzzFeed intends to expand its investigative efforts as it has built its original reporting teams for almost two years: in line with the values and traditions of great investigative journalism, but without being wedded to traditional forms.

Mark Schoofs is currently a senior editor at ProPublica, a key institution in American investigative journalism, where he has been since 2011. Before that, he had worked for more than 11 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a foreign correspondent and an investigative reporter for Page One. Schoofs played a key role in investigations ranging from abuse and fraud in Medicare to the international methamphetamine trade. He contributed to the Journal’s coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. Prior to the Journal, Schoofs was a staff writer at The Village Voice, where he won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his eight-part series on AIDS in Africa. He has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Esquire, Out, and many other publications. Schoofs has reported from more than 25 countries on four continents. He holds two United States patents. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Yale University, where he has also taught a seminar on journalism.

Schoofs will be based in New York and will start later this year.