The best watchdog journalism exposes problems. But it can be frustrating for readers when investigative stories leave them feeling hopeless – like nothing can be done about a bad situation.

At California Watch, we hope that our stories will be the starting point – a catalyst for discussion debate and change. We want to facilitate that to the extent that we can by providing a venue or forum about the key topics we’re writing about. We want readers to feel engaged and empowered to be part of the solution. We’re going to try to make that as easy as possible with our React and Act features that will accompany most of our stories. You can find the feature on the right rail of our story pages.

We plan to give you the names, numbers and e-mail addresses of major stakeholders who can make a difference. We used React and Act on our story about stimulus funding going to companies with histories of environmental pollution and other legal woes. We also used React and Act for our story about party central committees sidestepping campaign limits. Check out the way we did it. I think it’s pretty cool.

We’ll also be hosting chats with key players – a sort of “virtual round table” discussion set around important issues. After the chats are completed, I’d like our chat moderators to review the chat transcripts and develop talking points from those conversations that policy leaders can use as a roadmap for reform. We’ll also make it easy for you to track the changes that come as a result of our investigative reporting. And we’ll be exploring other ways to help readers engage.

As always, let us know how we’re doing. We’re going to count on feedback from our readers to make refinements and improvements.

California Watch is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and is now the largest investigative reporting team operating in the state. Visit the Web site for in-depth coverage of K-12 schools, higher education, money and politics, health and welfare, public safety and the environment.

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Mark Katches is a past editorial director for The Center for Investigative Reporting. He is currently editor of the Oregonian and vice president of content for the Oregonian Media Group. Previously, he built and ran investigative teams at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Orange County Register. Mark was the primary editor of Pulitzer Prize-winning projects in both 2008 and 2010 and edited or managed five other stories that were Pulitzer finalists. Projects he edited or directed also have won the George Polk Award, the IRE award and the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award as well as the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and the National Headliner Award. Multiplatform projects produced by CIR staff under Mark's guidance won a national News & Documentary Emmy, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. He has overseen projects or websites that have won four Online Journalism Awards in the last decade, in addition to logging more than a dozen OJA finalists. In 2001, he was part of a reporting team that won the Gerald Loeb and IRE awards for a series of stories detailing the rising profits from the human tissue trade. He completed a Punch Sulzberger Fellowship at Columbia University in 2013 and has taught reporting classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University. Mark served on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors for four years and oversaw the IRE mentorship program for six years.