April 14, 2010

InvestigateWest launches on Spot.Us with story examining cruise ship industry

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Just how green are those cruise ship tourism dollars that roll into Seattle and other west coast cities every spring and summer? Help InvestigateWest journalists find out by pledging online to support our work through an innovative journalism startup launching in Seattle Wednesday.

InvestigateWest’s story on the environmental impact of the fast-growing cruise ship industry is one of only three selected by Spot.Us for their Seattle area launch. Founded in San Francisco in 2008, Spot.Us makes it easy to support regional and local investigative reporting: log onto the site, check out the news and with just a few clicks, make a donation (as little as $20.00) to fund a story that impacts all of us.

The quality of our Puget Sound waters affects everyone living in this region. Cruise ships visiting Seattle bring more than 800,000 people to our area. The ships generate sewage, wastewater, hazardous waste, garbage and other toxic substances. Vancouver, B.C., gets even more cruise ship visitors. What’s the impact of these floating cities on human health and aquatic life? While cruise ship companies have certainly made improvements, we think it's a good time to take a look at the industry and the waters they traverse to see if the sparkling image the industry projects lines up with reality.

The first of 211 sailings of the 2010 cruise season departed Seattle this month. Just one cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew members generates more than 200,000 gallons of human sewage, one million gallons of waste water, eight tons of garbage and more than 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water each week. Although cruise ship lines are working to improve their environmental practices, it's well established that serious violations have occurred in this state's waters, as well as in U.S. and international waters. Help InvestigateWest look at this issue by pledging to support this story at this link or on this page, just to your right where you see the cruise ship photo!

While you're on the Spot.Us site, check it out and learn about Spot.Us' innovative approach to funding local, independent, investigative reporting. So far, they've raised more than $100,000 to support local watchdog reporting. That has been in the San Francisco area, where David Cohn launched Spot.Us in 2008, and in Los Angeles, where the site recently expanded. Today's launch is the the site's first Seattle effort.

Reporting the story for InvestigateWest is Lee van der Voo, a strong investigative writer with a lot of experience in environmental coverage. Lee has won numerous regional awards as a newspaper reporter, and also won a national prize from the Society of Environmental Journalists in 2006. This year she took home a prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors award for reporting on a law enforcement scandal. Her work has appeared in numerous publications.

InvestigateWest is an independent, nonprofit investigative news organization based in Seattle, is staffed by journalists with a track record of producing in-depth stories and, as a result, change in public policy and corporate practice. Those interested in becoming supporting members of InvestigateWest can do so here.

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