We’ve published more than 80 blog posts on our two blogs, and our new site isn’t even two weeks old. But one question I’ve been asked lately is how often we will be publishing big investigative stories on our site – stories that will also be distributed to news outlets throughout California.
Nailing down publication dates can be tricky. Years of managing investigative projects has taught me how wildly unpredictable these complex, high-stakes stories can be.
But our sincere hope is to have at least one strong enterprise or investigative story each week. We’ve hit that mark so far this month. Reporter Chase Davis analyzed contribution data for a story about local party committees that funnel campaign money to individual candidates in a way that sidesteps state campaign finance laws. It ran January 3 in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, the Modesto Bee, the Stockton Record, the Ventura County Star, the Voice of San Diego and the Bakersfield Californian. Last weekend, we distributed a story by freelancer and former Center for Investigative Reporting staffer Will Evans about stimulus grants going to large corporations despite records as environmental polluters and other problems. The Chronicle and Ventura County Star also took that story, as did the San Diego Union Tribune, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Daily News and La Opinion, which translated the story into Spanish. We have an exciting environmental-themed story ready for this weekend. We’re working now to shore up our distribution partners for that piece. We should have another strong story the week after that.
And the week after that.
Our philosophy is to distribute and publish stories when they are ready, and not to worry about trying so hard to hit a once-a-week target. Some stories will need more time to cook. When we collaborate with news partners on joint reporting projects, it adds a whole new set of moving parts to the machine. And we have to coordinate with our partners to make sure the machine is both well-oiled and moving in the right direction. It’s not as easy as it might look.
But when I scan the list of our upcoming stories, I see a lot of machines humming along, nearing the end of the tunnel. So I feel pretty confident we’ll be releasing a regular dose of the big story.
That’s on top of the aggressive daily blogging. Our target is to generate eight to 10 new blog posts each day. We’ll be using the blog to break news. (We posted details and quotes from the governor’s press conference on the budget last week before he had left the podium.) We’ll also be updating readers on the status of our investigations, offering up nuggets from our notebooks and providing more insights on our two blogs – the California WatchBlog and the Inside the Newsroom blog.
Additionally, we’ll be adding searchable databases in our Data Center – many of them connected to stories we’re producing along our priority topic areas: money and politics, K-12 schools, higher education, health and welfare, public safety and the environment.
It all adds up to a site that will be active – a dynamic place we hope readers will want to visit multiple times a day.
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 at www.californiawatch.org for in-depth coverage of K-12
schools, higher education, money and politics, health and welfare, public
safety and the environment.