Investigative Journalism 2.0

Posted by on Sep 13 2011 | PPC, Taxes, Transportation

It’s no secret the cost of investigative journalism is becoming prohibitive in the 21st century. Gone are the days when newspapers employed investigative teams to dig up dirt on politicians and wasteful government. Sure you can blame the Internet, but you’d have to confess that the Internet simultaneously killed the old investigative journalist guard and replaced it with the new, more nimble Internet investigative guard. Now anyone who has a cheap netbook, Internet connection, and a hot tip can play investigative journalist. (Thanks WordPress!) Unfortunately, publishing great scoops on your own website doesn’t automatically mean that it will get the attention that it probably deserves. This is one advantage the old media and it’s decimated force of investigative journalists still has on us. Therefore, when Independence Institute investigative journalist Todd Shepherd breaks something on our Independence Investigates website, he is delighted when the old media picks up on it. And sometimes, when old media echoes a breaking investigation loud enough, real changes occur in the real world.

Let me give you an example.

In February of this year, Todd broke a rather sickening story about sex offenders registering addresses with the state at locations of state-subsidized child care providers. Take a look at the original report here. Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post reported on Todd’s investigation that same day – on the virtual pages of the Post. Sure enough, five months later the state removed 12 daycare providers from the registry thanks to Todd’s investigation. No doubt Chuck’s write-up in the state’s largest newspaper helped give legs to Todd’s work, which lead to the subsequent action by the state to rectify the situation. This is but one example of how new media and old media help each other.

Let me present you with the latest example. This Sunday Todd broke a story showing emails from CDOT employees discussing possible gas tax hikes and new taxes on fuel efficient vehicles. The next day, semi-old media picked the story up on their website. The prolific Michael Roberts of the Westword echoed Todd’s story on the Latest Word. You’ll notice in Michael’s piece that he gives a lot of love to the Independence Institute as well (look at our logo in all its glory). This kind of exposure is great for us. And great for new media in general.

A big thanks needs to go out to the Denver Post and publications like the Westword for reporting on our investigations. We have a harder time effecting change without you guys. And of course, thanks to Todd Shepherd for continually breaking huge stories. Taxpayers, ratepayers, and fans of transparency owe a lot to your work.

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