I am excited to introduce to you The Utah Investigative Journalism Project, the first of its kind in Utah—a nonprofit dedicated to producing, publishing and supporting in-depth, watchdog journalism. The kind of journalism most expensive for newsrooms to create, and perhaps most important for Utahns to see, hear and read about to be informed and engaged citizens in our fair state.
I’ve been a journalist for nearly the past decade and during that time I struggled like so many other reporters keeping one eye on my deadline, and one on the calamitous state of the industry, always wondering if the next seismic disruption in the media landscape was going to swallow me up whole.
During that time, I also gradually began to notice an unsettling trend. As reporters more and more became victims of layoffs, or simply became burnt out from the mandate to “do more with less” it also seemed that on the flip side, my email inbox was clogged every day with press releases. It seemed as if with fewer reporters trying to cover more beats, companies and politicians out there realized it was much easier for them to set the agenda. With beleaguered reporters looking for online content or blogs, or just needed a story right then for one of their several beats, it became all too easy to just open a press release and run with it, no matter the story. Politicians were setting the schedule, and instead of reporters having time to dig deep into a politico’s actions, it became a matter of running from one ribbon cutting to the next. Other reporters in desperate need of online content suddenly found themselves holding their noses and writing a story about how some company back east decided that Salt Lake City was in the top 25 cities west of the Mississippi for young creative professionals that owned dogs.
And I only sigh because I wrote plenty of those stories– it was just part of the business.
What became clear is that I and my fellow reporters were outnumbered and outgunned. That is why now it is my pleasure to direct the efforts of this nonprofit toward providing relief and support to those diligent reporters and media organizations looking to do true in-depth investigative reporting.
The nonprofit will develop stories to be published in existing media outlets and will whenever possible offer aid to reporters and newsrooms, and collaborate with reporters who want to collaborate with us.
Keep in mind, the work here will be investigative. It will be data-driven, it will be based on exhaustive research and carefully gathered public records. This is not a site for pop culture reporting. This is not a site for thinly-veiled partisan rants. The Utah Investigative Journalism Project is beholden to no ideology or political belief. Our focus is good reporting no matter who it upsets.
Rarely will this site editorialize or advocate unless its for the sake of a robust fourth estate or open and transparent government.
So join us as we dig up some dirt, turn over some rocks and shine a light on everything we find.