Dear News Consumer,
Investigative reporting is under siege in America. Those who dig deeply for the news, and sometimes die reporting it, are called enemies of the American people. The newsrooms they toil in are all too often underfunded, some of them a few breaths from moribund.
Real investigative reporting is hard and often takes a long time to produce. It’s damned expensive. So, as newsrooms shrink, investigative reporting teams are the first to go.
I recently joined the board of Underscore, a new nonprofit team of journalists whose purpose is to rekindle investigative reporting in my region. I’ve spent half my life as an investigative reporter, including 25 years at The Houston Post and The Oregonian. Those were heady times, when publishers spent money on hard-hitting exposes. Editors cut me loose to right great wrongs, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Twelve years ago, I spent 18 months on an investigation with two other reporters and a photojournalist. It was expensive. But we exposed scandal and wrongdoing in the U.S. government’s $2 billion work program for disabled Americans. For that work, we were named finalists for The Pulitzer Prize in national reporting.
Very few newsrooms today can afford to cut a team of reporters loose like that – especially for 18 months. So who wins when these investigations never get underway? I’ll tell you who. Crooked politicians. Polluters. Racists. Bad cops. Crime syndicates. The corner-cutting captains of industry. . . . the list goes on.
Who are the victims? They are the disadvantaged, the downtrodden, and the disenfranchised – people out in the margins of society who need our help most.
I joined Underscore’s board because I believe in the nonprofit’s work. Our team produces public service journalism – justice-guided work that throws a spotlight on people too often left without a voice. Oregon-based Underscore brings serious investigative reporting to causes and communities, including deep coverage of Indian Country.
Our readers don’t want to be trampled by crisis-of-the-day coverage. They want to understand the complexities of deeply told news stories. They want to know the backstories and the points of view of everyone connected to a topic.
Underscore delivers. We partner with other newsrooms to execute deep, authoritative stories that you deserve to read, watch, and listen to.
Please consider making a donation of any amount today at the Underscore website.
Each of your dollars is a vote for Democracy.
Underscore board member