The Think Tank Watch has a recent blog post (Think Tanks Doing Journalism) that highlights this trend:
"Many Washington think tanks have been hiring well-known journalists in recent years in an effort to beef up their efforts to get good writers, network with media-types, and better disseminate information and policy proposals to a wider audience. "
A recent Economist article (Think-tanks and journalism: Making the headlines) points out that it's not just opeds, papers and conferences anymore.
Indeed. we've seen bits and pieces of that from education think tanks like Education Sector, Fordham, Carnegie, Brookings, and New America all come to mind. Perhaps the best example of this is AIR taking over Education Sector (and its blog), or Bellwether helping launch RealClearEducation. ThinkProgress -- a division of CAP -- is another example (they were looking for an education reporter not too long ago).
Of course, some news outlets are blurring the line the other way, becoming more wonkish and policy-oriented and less, well, newsy. Part of this is by necessity. With their own writers and social media campaigns, think tanks need journalists less. They've already got academic credibility (of a sort), they already validate ideas for politicians and policymakers. Now they're distributing their own ideas directly.
Related posts: AIR Taking Over Education Sector; Carnegie Is The New Ed Sector; [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?, Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education Guy; Google Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy Conferences; Expert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?