HuffPost starts investigative reporting fund
Mar. 30th, 2009 by Pia Christensen · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health journalism
The Huffington Post is launching a fund that will support investigative reporting. The initial budget of $1.75 million is expected to pay for 10 staff journalists who will coordinate stories with freelancers.
Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or Web site to use at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post, she said.
The first topic the journalists will be expected to delve into is the nation’s economy.
The Huffington Post skews liberal, but its founder promised that the work done by the investigative fund would be nonpartisan. The group would be discredited quickly if it puts out faulty information, said Nick Penniman, the fund’s executive director.
“We care about democracy, not Democrats,” he said.
Here’s another example of the growing trend of the not-for-profit news entity, as I have been predicting here for a long time now. In the post “Rumours of the death of newspapers have been greatly exaggerated,” for example. In the meantime, the momentum of the not-for-profit news providing sector continues to grow, despite silly rantings from libertarians that corporations need to be allowed to buy up and control all of the remaining newspapers. This is a story about the Center for California Health Care Journalism. Note that this a partnership with the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California. Such not-for-profits will be able to assist cash-strapped newspapers do the quality reporting they need to do.
What’s more, because of the superior moral connectivity of not-for-profit entities, they will be able to out maneuver the for-profit industries, and the not-for profits representing for-profits (for example industry associations, or corporate funded think tanks, or those think tanks which keep their funding secret.) I like especially the quote ‘the center is part of a growing trend of nonprofit…” Within the next year or two we will see the realization grow that newspapers should be non-profits; this idea will rapidly gain traction if a major story is broken by such an entity. There’s nothing that I can see that will reverse this trend. :
The Center for California Health Care Journalism is a new organization formed to report on health care issues that concern Californians. The center is supported by the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and funded by the California HealthCare Foundation.” [Learn more about the center in this brochure (PDF).]
Looking into the future
The center is in the process of hiring two more people. Parks declined to name them because they’ve not yet been formally hired but he did say one has been a reporter at The Orange County Register and the other a reporter at the Sacramento Bee.
Parks said the Center is in talks with the Fresno Bee, the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., and a couple of papers in northern California to do projects.
As far as the goals of the center, Parks says “We are engaged in solutions-based journalism.” That amounts to reporting on issues and problems but also exploring solutions. “We hope these projects create a civil dialogue. …Part of the responsibility of journalists is to go out and examine the solutions.”
Parks sees radio as a medium in which the partnership model could be effective. “I think we would be able to do a lot on the public radio stations. I think we’d be able to do a lot on Spanish language radio.” He acknowledges that doing these kind of projects on television is a real challenge because of equipment and staffing needs, as well as time constraints.
The center is about two months into the six-month trial. Once the trial is over, Parks will report to the foundation for a review.
The center is part of a growing trend of nonprofit organizations actively reporting health stories. In recent months, the Kaiser Family Foundation announced plans for its own Kaiser Health News. The Kansas Health Institute – supported by foundations – employs writers and editors in its own news service, and the foundation-supported Web site Florida Health News collects stories and does some original health reporting.
A story about someone secretly taking video inside a slaughterhouse, documenting the mistreatment of cattle. Those who shot the video, probably with a very small camera, seem to have been acting mainly from the perspective of reducing cruelty to animals (certainly a good thing to do) but there is also a public health perspective to this as well:
Westland Meat Co. voluntarily suspended operations last week after the release of undercover video taken by the Humane Society of the United States was released. The video showed, among other things, ramming of cattle with forklifts, and workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing “downed” cows – considered too sick or injured to walk – to force them into the federally inspected slaughterhouse.
“Downed Cows” or “downers” are known to be possible carriers of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy aka Mad Cow Disease) and the few documented case of BSE are perhaps the tip of the iceberg. But remember that when one beef producer wanted to test all of their cows for BSE, the Bush administration sued to prevent them from doing that, on the grounds that if one producer did that they would “disparage” the quality of the rest of the beef. So much for market forces and freedom of the press!
This is just another example, as noted here and here, of the advantages that accrue to those NFP players who are seeking to further the public good under Web 2.0. (Note that those NFP’s that are seeking to further special or corporate interests don’t do so well under Web 2.0, as noted here*.) This is, of course, in addition to the other advantages the NFP sector had already been accruing during the 1990’s which I’ve written about here.
The link to the video and more below the fold:
The post Does Municipal Wi-Fi Have the Incentive for Security? by Cord Blomquist over at TLF is another subterfuge for corporate welfare, carefully disguised. (Although he has picked up on the Headline as a question thing.) But, in the course of the debate he makes a really key observation that I almost overlooked.
First, he starts out with the seemingly plausible statement that perhaps municipalities don’t have as strong a motivation to provide strong security as private companies do:
USA Today reports that most are unaware of the dangers facing them at public Wi-Fi hotspots, which brought to mind an interesting question about municipal Wi-Fi. What incentive is there for municipalities to provide encryption and other security technologies?
The article mentions that AT&T and T-Mobile are the largest providers of free Wi-Fi hookups in the country and although the Wi-Fi itself is unsecured, both companies encourage the use of freely provided encryption software. The incentives for both companies seem fairly obvious. If people are going to be Wi-Fi users they need to feel safe and encryption technology is a way to do this. Customers stay safe and continue to use the service, making AT&T T-Mobile and other providers money.
Do municipal setups have the same incentives? Depending on the financial structure of such a system I can see how there would be little incentive to provide security software or other safeguards to users. Yet these Muni-Fi services would still distort the market, making it less likely for companies—that might be affected by privacy concerns—to invest in those areas.
After much discussion by others, the discusion moves away from the security question (red herring!), and to the real issue, which is that stuff like free municipally-provided Wi-Fii isn’t allowed under that good ole free market religion.
I ask then: Well, Cord, if Municipalities shouldn’t be in the Wi-Fi business, why should they be in the library business?
Both efforts have very similar aims, and libraries ‘compete’ with bookstores and video rental establishments, right?
Amnesty International: Signature
Here’s the future of advocacy, and just another example of a critical advantage that the NFP sector has over other methods of organization. This particular advantage arises from Web 2.0, but there already were many advantages that the NGO/NFP sector has, as I have posted about here: Not your Father’s Thousand Points of Light so, I think we will just see an acceleration of that trend.
Note that I would exclude corporate-funded ‘think tanks’ from that advantaged group. There’s just too much opportunity for others to expose them, in the post-2.0 web world. I am thinking of AEI, and CEI, disarmed so well by www.sourcewatch.org or exxonsecrets.org.
Oh, and perhaps the artist was influenced by Lynd Ward; take a look: Journey to the End of the Night (Lynd Ward Edition)
A Process that (very strangely) is under the radar of most right now is the expansion of the Not-for-Profit Sector into fields that were traditionally the exclusive reserve of the for profits. There was an interesting article in The McKinsey Quarterly* a while back that caught my attention with some facts about the Not-for-Profit sector:
1. The NFP sector as of 1997 was the third largest contributor to the GDP, contributing $349 billion to the U.S. economy, dwarfing the $85 billion contributed by the motor vehicle parts and manufacturing sector
2. The NFP/NGO sector employs 1 in 15 of employed Americans.
3. This sector has grown at an average annual rate of 5.1% from 1993 to 1998, beating GDP growth which was 3.1% annually