Dear friends: About a week before I was ready to launch FearlessMedia.org, I got a call from Glenn Greenwald. Then Pierre Omidyar. The result: I am joining an extraordinary team at the most exciting new news start-up I could possibly imagine. Its mission is entirely in keeping with what I was trying to build here at the Center for Accountability Journalism -- but so much bigger and bolder. Much of the thinking and planning I've done here will become part of our new venture, leaving no need to continue here.
To all of you who have made donations: I have been incredibly touched by your kindness, and buoyed by your support. But of course I will now be returning all the contributions. If you still have your same PayPal account, or the address from which you sent your check is unchanged, you will be getting a refund in short order. Otherwise, please email me at email@example.com.
Please stay tuned for the next act. If you sign up or have signed up for email updates, I will let you know where to find me.
Journalists are supposed to fight misinformation and hold the powerful accountable. When we fail, like we've been doing a lot lately, the consequences are grave: How can a democracy self-correct when it doesn't get the real story about what the people in charge are doing? How do we solve problems like climate change and income inequality if the press lets itself be distracted and spun by the powerful and the self-interested?
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Accountability Journalism -- operating as a project of the Investigative News Network -- will serve as an aggregator and amplifier of great accountability journalism. That means we'll champion gutsy reporting from mainstream and independent sources, explain its significance, put it in context, follow it up, build on it, and keep important questions from falling off the radar. But we'll also point out areas where the media has been too inattentive, too credulous, or too easily confused. We'll connect dots that have been left unconnected. And we'll establish best practices for writing about contentious issues with authority, rather than simply presenting conflicting he-said/she-said arguments and leaving readers baffled and under-informed.
Led by Dan Froomkin, FearlessMedia.org will also serve as a model of how new technology can advance journalism. Through the thoughtful application of modern publishing software, the work of our small staff will have maximum immediate impact on multiple platforms, while also adding up over time into a vast repository of trusted information. Our active social media presence will allow us to nip misinformation in the bud at key moments in the narrative formation. New multimedia technology will enable us to launch panel discussions, live Q&As and town-hall style meetings in instants.
About Dan Froomkin:
After serving as a top editor at the Washington Post website, Dan Froomkin launched its popular White House Watch column in 2003. He provided an enthusiastic daily corrective to overly credulous mainstream press coverage and was hailed for exposés regarding the run-up to war in Iraq, warrantless surveillance, and detainee policies that sanctioned torture and cruelty. (Obama archives; Bush archives) When he and the Post parted ways in 2009, there was an outcry from a legion of devoted readers.
At the Huffington Post, as Washington Bureau Chief and Senior Washington Correspondent, he produced tell-it-like-it-is, connect-the-dots journalism holding both the Obama administration and GOP leaders accountable. He has also spent the past nine years crusading for more aggressive reporting at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as deputy editor of the NiemanWatchdog.org website and now as a contributor to Nieman Reports. He is active on Twitter and Facebook.
More about Dan Froomkin here.
Writing about the media:
The Snowden leaks have exposed the need for a national discussion on privacy, but it isn't happening (Al Jazeera America, October 2013)
The Snowden leaks have exposed the need for a national discussion on privacy, but it isn't happening.
Shutdown coverage fails Americans (Al Jazeera America, October 2013)
We need journalists to hold politicians accountable for extremist actions, not to enable them
The Too-Many Prisoners Dilemma (Nieman Reports, September 2013)
Prisons are a vast, undercovered but important beat.
Writing a Neutral Story About Something So Heartless As the Food Stamp Vote Is Not Good Journalism (Huffington Post, September 2013)
Instead of reporting the obvious, political reporters write triangulating mush that leaves readers to fend for themselves.
Suddenly, a ray of hope for the Post (Columbia Journalism Review, August, 2013)
Bezos purchase may be a last chance for newsrooms to become 'nerve centers for the Internet'.
How to Keep Sources Secure from Surveillance (Nieman Reports, August 2013)
The U.S. government is willing and able to use journalists' telephone and Internet records to pursue sources who leak secrets to the media. So we have to work harder to keep their identities secret.
The Case for a Secrecy Beat (Columbia Journalism Review, June 2013)
If the extraordinary secrecy that has spread throughout our government since 9/11 is what makes it difficult to hold a public debate on key issues, then the media's role should be to push back against that secrecy. And our most powerful weapon is reporters.
Why Is There So Little Coverage of Americans Struggling With Poverty? (Nieman Reports, Winter 2013)
Although nearly 50 million people -- about one in six Americans -- live in poverty, defined as income below $23,021 a year for a family of four, most news organizations largely ignore the issue. But persistent poverty is in some ways the ultimate accountability story -- because, often, poverty happens by design.
Truth or Consequences: Where is Watchdog Journalism Today? (Nieman Reports, Spring 2013)
To many people, watchdog reporting is synonymous with investigative reporting, specifically, ferreting out secrets. But there's another, maybe even more crucial form, that involves rebuffing and rebutting misinformation.
How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign (Huffington Post, December 2012)
Members of the mainstream media are so terrified of appearing biased that they couldn't bring themselves to report about how the Republican Party lied its way through the 2012 campaign with impunity, argue Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. "If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they've got to know what's going on."
'Playing it Safe' Is Killing the American Newspaper (Huffington Post, May 2009)
We stifle some of our best stories with a wet blanket of pseudo- neutrality. We edit out tone. We banish anything smacking of activism. We don't telegraph our own enthusiasm for what it is we're doing. We vaguely assume the readers will understand how valuable a service we're providing for them -- but evidently, many of them don't.
The lessons of our failure (NiemanWatchdog.org, October 2008)
Fear was the biggest factor in the press's decision not to challenge President Bush and his aides as they made what turned out to be a plainly specious case for war.
A refresher on how the press failed the people (NiemanWatchdog.org, May 2008)
Stone's lessons for Internet journalism (Nieman Reports, Summer 2007)
Journalism on Trial (Washington Post, February 2007)
On Calling Bullshit
(NiemanWatchdog.org, November 2006)
Other recent articles:
Idealists (Huffington Post, October 2012)
The Big Chill (Nieman Reports, Fall 2012)
Defying Gravity (Nieman Reports, Fall 2012)
Dark Side Of The Obama White House (Huffington Post, July 2012)
Questions? Comments? Email Dan Froomkin at firstname.lastname@example.org