Texas Watchdog seeks to be on the leading edge of a national trend toward investigative and enterprise journalism taking place on the Web and outside the traditional newsroom.
We’re launching this service because the owners of newspapers and television news teams have, in too many cases, cut back on investigating government and chipped away at their ability to be a watchdog for the voter and the taxpayer.
Experts may disagree about the many reasons for this, but they agree that newspapers are on the decline nationwide. In 2007, newspaper newsroom staffs fell by 2,400 –- the largest drop in 30 years. And this does not include hundreds more newsroom buyouts and layoffs already imposed in 2008. Dozens of major newspapers have announced staff cuts, including the elimination of long-time investigative reporters and experienced writers.
Furthermore, some studies indicate that reporters who are launching journalism careers don’t have the training they would desire to be watchdogs and to do the digging that is needed for enterprise reporting. Editors say that many journalism school graduates are ill-prepared for the job, and the vast majority of recent graduates –- 82 percent of young journalists in one recent study –- said they needed more training “very much."
We hope to be a resource for reporters seeking those skills, as well as for bloggers who seek to learn more about digging up their own original content. We also want to be a place where residents can learn more about how to make their city halls and school systems more transparent –- and to keep public officials honest. We hope to launch a more fully featured Web site soon.