National Review Online - The Changing Face of Journalism

We wanted to pass along the below editorial that ran on National Review Online today. The editorial, "The Changing Face of Journalism" covers the desperate need for investigative reporters to keep our elected officials accountable for their actions. For more information on the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity please visit www.FranklinCenterHQ.org.

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The Changing Face of Journalism    [Jason Stverak]

 National Review Online

Corruption and scandal are not simply bred in D.C. — crooked politicians have to start somewhere. Gone unnoticed, scandal-plagued local politicians sometimes escalate to Congress or other federal positions.

The cure for a dishonest politician is an investigative reporter willing to allocate the time to expose the truth. However, the decline of resources at newspapers around the nation has increased the vacuum in state-based coverage. As such, newspapers around the country are curbing reporters’ ability to spend the time or money to investigate a story in addition to the daily beat they write. This growing hole in investigative journalism is now being filled by non-profit organizations that have the capacity to spend time becoming immersed in a story.

The formula for success for the non-profits is to hire straight-shooting professionals and provide them the opportunity and training to reemerge as the beat reporters from yesteryear. With local focuses, specific targets, a commitment to using highly trained and professional journalists, and a strategic approach to using and distributing resources, online non-profits are the future of journalism.

Just recently, a series of state-based watchdog groups have demonstrated that online news websites can churn out substantive investigative pieces. Jim Scarantino, the New Mexico Watchdog at the Rio Grande Foundation, found that N.M.’s lieutenant governor was utilizing tax dollars to buy Christmas cards for her political committee. Joe Jordan, a dedicated state-based reporter at NebraskaWatchdog.org, uncovered that their state's educators were using taxpayer-funded credit cards to purchase a first-class plane tickets to China for $11,000. And it was a Watchdog in Ohio that publicized a candidate’s attempt to pay for votes among college students.

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