November 17, 2010

New pathways to collaboration

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The winner of the 2010 Knight Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism plans to donate part of his prize winnings to InvestigateWest as a kickstart to a potential collaborative reporting project between his current employer and the regional investigative group he helped start.

Lewis Kamb was an original founding member of InvestigateWest. With The News Tribune and other McClatchy newspapers now examining potential enterprise reporting partnerships, the timing is perfect for the idea to help foster such a collaborative effort, particularly with InvestigateWest.

As former editor of the investigative team at the Seattle P-I, I edited the prize-winning chain saw scouting package. As a co-founder of InvestigateWest and executive director and editor, I’m thrilled and honored at the prospect of working  with Kamb and the The News Tribune in a future project.

To my mind, such a collaboration would demonstrate how effectively the work of independent, nonprofit media can link the eyes and ears of news consumers with important, public service journalism. It amplifies the power and impact of  important, public service journalism in the current economic climate, a tough one for news organizations regionally and nationally. As InvestigateWest has demonstrated in the past, such partnerships can be exciting opportunities to make a difference.

Kamb’s announcement comes at this year’s Knight-Risser Prize Symposium, “The Crisis in Environmental Watchdog Journalism,” to be held Nov. 17 at Stanford University. The symposium, which annually seeks to forge active collaborative links between environmental research, education, journalism, and policy-making, will examine the state of environmental watchdog journalism amid the crisis in the news industry.

“Newspapers are in a state a flux,” Kamb said. “Our staffs, our budgets, our coverage areas are shrinking. Amid tough times and scarce resources, I’m glad to be in a position to help foster a project that can hopefully make a difference — both in our profession and beyond.”

Kamb, who formerly worked as an investigative reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, served as the lead reporter of Chain Saw Scouting, an investigation of questionable logging and land use practices carried out by Boy Scouts’ groups nationwide. The three-part series – named the winner of this year’s Knight Risser Prize in October – has led to reforms in at least three states. 

Published all or in part by five newspapers and involving more than a dozen journalists, Chain Saw Scouting was Hearst Newspapers’ first nationwide investigation. The project would also be the final investigation by the Seattle P-I, which shut down its print operations less than two months after the series’ publication.

“Rita was a key part of the project team,” Kamb said. “This collaboration is a great way not only to reward her efforts, but to build new partnerships with The News Tribune and investigative reporting in general by paying forward the Knight Risser Prize’s generosity and commitment to honoring in-depth journalism.”

Additional background:

Founded in 2005 to recognize excellence in reporting on environmental issues in the North American West, the Knight-Risser Prize is sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships and the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information, go to http://knightrisser.stanford.edu/

For more than 125 years, The News Tribune has been the leading source of news for the South Puget Sound region. Its 90-member editorial staff produces news, business, sports and features for a daily print circulation audience of 90,000and 100,000 on Sundays. TheNewsTribune.com averages 1.2 million monthly unique visitors with 60 percent of those visitors coming from the Seattle-Tacoma designated market area (DMA). For more information, go to http://www.thenewstribune.com/

Launched in 2009, InvestigateWest is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the art and craft of investigative and narrative journalism. InvestigateWest distributes its content through partnerships with media organizations and through its own syndicated news service. For more information, go to http://www.invw.org/

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