Margaret Sullivan at the NYTimes wrote that the demise of the regional dailies has led to a dearth of investigative reporting in the United States. The problem with her analysis is that she only got the story partially right.Independent news media throughout the United States are doing an amazing job of investigative reporting. Especially at the local level, there are rich resources going to investigative reporting. In fact, there is an entire organization, INN, that is dedicated to investigative work. The independents in the Media Consortium, the alt-weeklies--like the much-mourned Boston Phoenix--as well as community, ethnic and hyperlocal outlets all have broken stories as a result of their investigative work. We need to turn the "spotlight" on these outlets, who are the canaries in the coal mine of the news media.
- Prop up the remaining dailies. This is a losing strategy. The public doesn't want them.
- Pour resources into a few national independents like Mother Jones, ProPublica, etc. that can take the place of the dailies. I'm all in favor of this, but I don't think these outlets can replace the regionals precisely because they are not local. What's missing is the local-national connection.
- Create a network linking local independents to nationals. Local outlets are there getting the stories. We do have national outlets like Mother Jones, ProPublica etc with the resources to fully explore these stories. What we don't have is a way to link the locals to the nationals in a relationship of partnership and trust. That's what I want to build.