Saturday, August 02, 2008

Where accountability comes from

I've been reading entries in the McClatchy President's Award contest, work done in the first six months of 2008: hospital fraud, exploitation of illegal immigrant workers in poultry operations, government abuse at Guantanamo, disastrous lack of regulation in construction trades, a covered-up sexual harassment case in a mayor's race, hundreds of millions of dollars wasted at a state mental health program ... and many more.

I don't know which will win awards (I am not the main judge) but I know it's a powerful body of compelling, important public service journalism, and I'm proud to be associated with the folks who produced it.

You know, Pro Publica (God love them) might not do this much accountability journalism in a year. And almost nobody else but newspapers is even trying.


  1. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Um, Howard, if even the Bush appointee(?) to the IPCC (after GWB engineered the ouster of the previous one, i believe) is saying "the next two or three years will determine our future" - and has been saying it now for a year or more - and the public infers the importance of news from the amt of real estate it occupies on the front page of your fine papers - perhaps it's time for McClatchy to focus on preserving the planet that human civilization evolved on? Perhaps by informing its communities about, you know, the disinformation effort and its tobacco ties?
    (which the people in my workplace are completely unaware of)

    The other work is great, but it's peanuts compared to the value of exposing the climate science disinformation effort. If we destroy this place we can't just move away. And we're close.
    There is no bigger story.

    "A car with bad brakes is driving toward a cliff in the fog. The cliff is the severe or irreversible disruption of the world’s climate. The fog is the lack of scientific certainty about where that cliff is. The car with the bad brakes is, well, us."
    (past AAAS president John Holdren of Harvard )

    From what I've seen, the Sac Bee has been giving this short shrift; likely also others.

  2. Anonymous1:46 PM

    p.s. If in building citizens McClatchy doesn't equip them with the ability to see that they're being bamboozled by the powerful on an issue of utmost importance, that's a design flaw. One that's understandable, but disastrous nonetheless.

    p.p.s. Apologies for my comment of several days ago which was likely what relegated Etaoin to splog status.

  3. Anonymous5:41 PM

    "One that's understandable..."
    (fixed the link)

  4. Anonymous5:50 PM

    re "the Sac Bee has been giving this short shrift..." - I didn't know about Tom Knudson's Sierra Summit blog.

  5. Packeteer12:07 PM

    No love for all the blowout coverage of the Calverts missing persons case here on Hilton Head, not even a little?. Sigh... I guess we'll have to wait until the College World Series comes around

  6. "almost nobody else but newspapers is even trying"

    Shall we give Mother Jones some credit?

    I think I'm gonna buy about 17 subscriptions to that magazine.

  7. God bless Mother Jones, the New Yorker, Atlantic and a few other who do extensive journalism.

    Mother Jones has about 180,000 circulation.

  8. Howard, Packeteer's comment brings to mind a question:

    Is there a site that rounds up all the submissions? Or maybe you could create an entry here (or anyone could do it on the wiki) where people could link to their submissions? I'd like seeing what else people love showing off as their best work.

  9. It's by no means perfect, but here's a Caspio databases I threw together that we can use to archive entries (no idea if I can use HTML here or not)

    President's Awards Entry

  10. Packeteer1:45 PM

    Here's the bulk of ours, though you wont' get the full feel of it since our Web site has yet to get the necessary fixes to compete in this digital era (hint hint).

  11. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Way to go only awarding the larger newspapers. That says a lot for the company's opinion of the smaller news outlets.