Worry: the sixth ‘W’ of journalism

Stress is the bedfellow of serious journalism – and for good reason
As a young reporter I was taught about the five W’s of journalism: Who, what, where, when and why. Nearly 20 years into my career, I’ve realized that another “W” word is critical to doing my job: worry. Take, for example, the recent story I wrote for InvestigateWest, in partnership with The Nation. The story tries to answer the question of why the Goldwater Institute, a conservative Republican think tank in Arizona was trying to use a series of lawsuits to dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act, a landmark law created to keep Indian families intact. The article follows the people involved, the lawyers who are bringing the lawsuits, and the tribal members who would feel its impact.

Unequal Justice project weds teamwork with big numbers

I’m tickled that I finally get to write about the Unequal Justice series collaboration today, one of our most ambitious partnerships to date and, certainly, the largest data project InvestigateWest has ever been involved with. I love this project. Mostly because it combines the two things that we do best at IW’s Oregon shop: drill down on numbers and work with our media partners. I alluded to its impending release back in September, in my note about the strength of collaboration, and again in October when I wrote to you about the power of data in journalism. Now I get to dish the backstory.

Riding along with the Portland Police Bureau

Each month we email InvestigateWest members Sidebar, an exclusive dispatch from our newsroom. Get Sidebar hot off the press by becoming a member today. Support InvestigateWest-> 
This month, I offer a behind-the-scenes look at a very snowy ride with Officer Kevin Allen of the Portland Police Bureau. As luck would have it, it was Jan. 10 when the bureau set me up for a ride-along with Officer Allen. The Portland native ended up being my tour guide during one of the biggest snowstorms the city has seen in two decades.

How we’ve changed since “Spotlight”

Spotlight reminds us how far journalism has come and continues to evolve. “Journalist” was dead last in a ranking of the top 200 jobs in 2015, citing the continued squeeze on newsrooms that stems from the lost advertising revenue that once funded them.

Newspapers

How the newspapers will die

In just the last 12 months, one in every 10 journalists at a daily newspaper in the U.S. lost his or her job, or left voluntarily and was not replaced.

A hurricane model for wildfires

With the help of University of Oregon’s Ben DeJarnette, we’re investigating forestry issues in Oregon, including the problem of potentially catastrophic wildfire. This month in SIDEBAR, an exclusive monthly dispatch from inside our newsroom just for InvestigateWest members, Robert McClure shares a story from his reporting. Spring has just sprung, and yet this summer’s fire outlook already is ominous across the Northwest. Snowpack in Washington’s Olympic Mountains is at something like 7 percent of normal. In the drier climes of southwestern Oregon conditions are even more parched.

Fundamental, or on the Chopping Block?

Our state’s Public Records Act, long a point of pride for Washingtonians, opens with a flourish: “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them.” This month in SIDEBAR, an exclusive monthly dispatch from inside our newsroom just for InvestigateWest members, Kim Drury calls up the folks in charge of that Act:

For decades, the Public Records Act has protected Washingtonians’ right to know and the Public Disclosure Commission has been there to ensure that the law’s provisions are met. The Records Act, along with the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act, has long been a point of pride in the state. In 2001, then Attorney General and later two-term Governor Christine Gregoire said that “… people are entitled to pretty much any document that comes to my mind.” From 2004 through 2008 Washington was ranked first in the nation for its campaign finance disclosure rules. Today, Kim Abel, President of the League of Women Voters of Washington is still willing to say that Washington is at the forefront in the nation for open government.