Nieman Watchdog

The Too-Many Prisoners Dilemma

By Watchdog October 16, 2013

With society potentially poised to turn the corner on mass incarceration, will news organizations rise to the challenge and increase their coverage? Or do limited resources and a lack of interest mean criminal justice issues—and the poignant underlying human-interest stories—continue to go largely unaddressed? Read more

Two E-books about Investigative Journalism in the U.S. and Around the World

By Watchdog October 16, 2013

"Muckraking Goes Global: The Future of Cross-Border Investigative Journalism" examines the achievements and challenges of investigative journalists reporting stories on subjects of global interest and impact. Journalists from Latin America, Romania, and the U.S. contributed. Published in Spanish and English on the occasion of three major investigative journalism conferences held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the fall of 2013, the e-book includes original content as well as articles published in the Spring 2013 issue of Nieman Reports. .epub | .mobi | .pdf "Investigative Reporting: Perils and Promise" focuses on post-Communist realities for journalists, government pushback on press freedoms, and strategies for moving forward. With contributions by journalists from Europe, Latin America, Russia, and South Africa, the e-book is a compilation of articles published in the Spring 2011 issue of Nieman Reports and in Kiev, Ukraine, in concert with a global investigative journalism conference held in the fall of 2011. .epub | .mobi | .pdf Read more

How to Keep Sources Secure from Surveillance

By Watchdog September 18, 2013

In an encrypted Q&A with The New York Times Magazine, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden warned that journalists have been slow to properly respond to the threat of government surveillance. "I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world," he wrote to Peter Maass about his initial attempts to communicate with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. "In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless." Revelations over the last few months have made it clear that the U.S. government is willing and able to use telephone and Internet records to pursue sources who leak secrets to the media, and to do so by targeting reporters, if necessary. Read more

Public Service Work

By Watchdog May 16, 2013

Margaret Engel, a longtime champion of nonprofit journalism, hopes more foundations (including small, locally based ones) will start to recognize the essential public service work of news organizations—and will realize that their communities' needs are less likely to be met if reporters aren't out there exposing them. Read more

You Can’t Rush Great Journalism

By Watchdog April 18, 2013

Photojournalist and filmmaker Molly Bingham writes that good journalism takes time—including time on the ground. And if we can't find some way to afford it, then our journalism will suffer. Third in a series of Q. and A.’s with former Nieman Fellows about the past, present and future of watchdog reporting. Read more

Complicated Matters

By Watchdog March 13, 2013

Veteran investigative journalist Ken Armstrong, NF ’01, encourages his fellow reporters to look for patterns rather than isolated anecdotes, to focus on what others have to say rather than joust with sources, and not to be too humble. In a Q. and A. about watchdog reporting, he said stories too often are presented as black and white; what he’d like to see is “less villainizing, more humanizing.” And he singled out Steve Coll’s “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power” as a well-researched book that doesn’t shy from nuance. Read more

The Jobs Crisis

By Watchdog March 13, 2013

Job creation is a key topic in the presidential election but so far it's been all sound bites and no substance. Dan Froomkin, a new contributing editor to Nieman Reports and former deputy editor of the Nieman Watchdog Project, examines the jobs crisis and what's missing from Romney and Obama's statements on the issue. Neither seems ready to acknowledge that, in the words of Robert Pollin, author of “Back to Full Employment," creating decent jobs requires “substantial levels of government intervention.” Read more

Interview With a Watchdog Journalist

By Watchdog January 4, 2013

“Never stop asking for public documents,” says Boston Globe reporter Jenifer B. McKim, NF ’08, in the first of a series of Q. and A.'s with Nieman Fellows about watchdog reporting. “Sometimes a simple public records request can lead to stunning discoveries.” In McKim’s case, her request for reports about lead poisoning, made when she was a reporter at The Orange County Register in California, kicked off a two-year investigation into candy tainted with lead that prompted changes in state and federal laws. Read more

At the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Watchdog Reporting is King

By Watchdog November 21, 2012

Marty Kaiser has been editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 15 years, and during that time he has had to make a lot of cuts to his newsroom. The path he chose was to give up daily, incremental stories that don't move the ball, in favor of emphasizing watchdog stories that expose problems that need fixing. "What I love about it is that in a way it's the old-fashioned newspaper crusade," he says. "I think you should stand up for what you believe in and say that's what you're doing." Read more

‘Follow the Money—Globally’

By Watchdog November 21, 2012

Working with reporters across borders is the new frontier for accountability journalism, says Sheila S. Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Born in Manila, Coronel co-founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and served as its director for 17 years. Now blogging as the “WatchDog Watcher,” she argues that journalists can’t “follow the money” if they’re not going global with their reporting. Read more