California Watch has launched a new website, with a focus on enabling readers to learn more and take action on the investigations its team pursues.
The new website includes investigative stories by journalists from California Watch, which is a non-profit investigative news project of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), and a blog related to the beats that its reporters cover.
It also has databases and research centres that readers can access directly, with information such as campaign finance records, crime statistics, school attendance rates, and environmental clean up sites. For example, reports submitted to the U.S. government by recipients of the stimulus funds are available for searching on the site. There are also sections with contact information for public officials, advice on accessing public records and insights from reporters on the news gathering process.
The idea is that readers can access the information that interests them, whether about their local area or their preferred topics, and take action.
CIR executive director Robert Rosenthal said that his centre would continue to produce investigative journalism on national and international topics, while also focusing on stories that were important to the people of California.
"We've created an investigative reporting team for California that will not only expose corruption and wrongdoing, but will spark debate and give people the tools to learn more and identify solutions that will hopefully improve the quality of life in the state," he said.
California Watch has a 13-person editorial team and was launched last year to as a new model for regional investigative reporting. Their plan to adopt a syndication-fee model differs from other non-profit news organisations such as ProPublica and the Texas Tribune. Its stories are distributed widely through collaborative relationships with local and regional news publishers across California.
It already seems to be a success story, with front page stories published across the state before the official launch in December. And any projects supporting investigative reporting are clearly important work. It remains to be seen, however, whether the non-profit business model can be sustainable.
Source: Knight Foundation