We really had no institutional baggage to overcome when we built our California Watch team from scratch. No voices telling us, “You can’t do that.” Or, “That’s not the way we do it here.” We weren’t weighted down by the kind of intractable culture that has made it hard for lots of newsrooms across America to adjust and adapt quickly enough to a fast-changing world.

We have pretty much thrown out the old rule books. Here editors will write and report and – gasp – reporters will edit. And even crazier than that: investigative journalists are blogging – a ton. Our hard-working staff has generated close to 100 blog posts in a little more than three weeks, on top of some kick-ass stories, terrific multimedia and nearly two dozen searchable databases. If you missed it, be sure to check out the video by Mark S. Luckie about our team and mission.

In our first few months of operation, the staff of California Watch has begun to mold its own way of doing things – one that stresses innovation, ideas, and a can-do spirit. We will try new things, and we will occasionally miss the mark, but you can’t move forward without throwing out antiquated, obsolete rules and challenging the way journalists have operated. It’s one of the endearing things in our little newsroom that makes this an absolutely thrilling place to be.

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.

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.