Too much information? Here’s how to separate truth from spin

How To Find Truth Within the Information OverloadPut this one on your calendars: Thursday, Dec. 16, from 7:30 to 9 pmAmid all the anxiety over the “death of newspapers” and the reliability of a crowdsourced encyclopedia and opinion-based “news,” seeking the truth remains the purpose of journalism—and the object for those who consume it. Veteran journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, authors of Blur, offer a guide to navigating our modern media terrain, discerning what is reliable, and determining which facts (and whose opinions) to trust.  Presented by The Town Hall Center for Civic Life and University Book Store in association with the Washington News Council and Journalism That Matters. The panel is moderated by former Seattle Times Executive Editor Mike Fancher. Series media sponsorship provided by PubliCola. Series supported by The Boeing Company Charitable Trust and the RealNetworks Foundation.For more information, go to Town Hall, or buy tickets ($5) at brownpapertickets.com, or call 800/838-3006.Learn more about Blur here.

Too much information? Here’s how to separate truth from spin

Put this one on your calendars: Thursday, Dec. 16, from 7:30 to 9 pmHow To Find Truth Within the Information Overload Amid all the anxiety over the “death of newspapers” and the reliability of a crowdsourced encyclopedia and opinion-based “news,” seeking the truth remains the purpose of journalism—and the object for those who consume it. Veteran journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, authors of Blur, offer a guide to navigating our modern media terrain, discerning what is reliable, and determining which facts (and whose opinions) to trust.  Presented by The Town Hall Center for Civic Life and University Book Store in association with the Washington News Council and Journalism That Matters. The panel is moderated by former Seattle Times Executive Editor Mike Fancher. Series media sponsorship provided by PubliCola. Series supported by The Boeing Company Charitable Trust and the RealNetworks Foundation.For more information, go to Town Hall, or buy tickets ($5) at brownpapertickets.com, or call 800/838-3006.Learn more about Blur here.

New pathways to collaboration

The winner of the 2010 Knight Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism plans to donate part of his prize winnings to InvestigateWest as a kickstart to a potential collaborative reporting project between his current employer and the regional investigative group he helped start.Lewis Kamb was an original founding member of InvestigateWest. With The News Tribune and other McClatchy newspapers now examining potential enterprise reporting partnerships, the timing is perfect for the idea to help foster such a collaborative effort, particularly with InvestigateWest.As former editor of the investigative team at the Seattle P-I, I edited the prize-winning chain saw scouting package. As a co-founder of InvestigateWest and executive director and editor, I’m thrilled and honored at the prospect of working  with Kamb and the The News Tribune in a future project.To my mind, such a collaboration would demonstrate how effectively the work of independent, nonprofit media can link the eyes and ears of news consumers with important, public service journalism. It amplifies the power and impact of  important, public service journalism in the current economic climate, a tough one for news organizations regionally and nationally. As InvestigateWest has demonstrated in the past, such partnerships can be exciting opportunities to make a difference.Kamb’s announcement comes at this year’s Knight-Risser Prize Symposium, “The Crisis in Environmental Watchdog Journalism,” to be held Nov. 17 at Stanford University. The symposium, which annually seeks to forge active collaborative links between environmental research, education, journalism, and policy-making, will examine the state of environmental watchdog journalism amid the crisis in the news industry.

Public trust? An old fashioned idea whose time has come (again)

Seattle's CityClub is putting out the word — the nonprofit, non-partisan leadership building organization wants community members to come together to discuss the theme "public trust."CityClub points out that a  recent Pew Research Centersurvey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government – a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials. CityClub is doing its part to facilitate discussion around the topic during its 2010 Community Matters Campaign. The organization is inviting community members to host a Community Dialogue with friends or colleagues about public trust. To learn more about the campaign and how to get involved, contact CityClub and join the conversation.With the Tea Party tearing apart the Republican establishment, the Democrats cowering on the sidelines and an ugly campaign season in offing, why not become part of the solution? Can't we all just get along? Let's give it a try.

Cruise ship story another successful launch for InvestigateWest

InvestigateWest is pleased to launch another new venture this week with 12 media partners and Spot.us, the grassroots journalism organization that brings community dollars to journalism that matters.IW had a good idea for a story that needed doing – taking a hard look at the billions of dollars that a popular form of vacationing pumps into local economies and asking just how green is that spending? The irony is that this economy depends on locations like Washington state, Alaska and British Columbia, with pristine waters and lush, green environmentally appealing forests and mountains that draw tourists. But if those tourism dollars do damage to that very same environment, is it worth supporting? Those are the questions that InvestigateWest and reporter Lee van der Voo set out to answer.

Investigative journalism matters, and InvestigateWest is part of the solution

The Investigative Reporters and Editors annual conference is always a professional high point of the year  – a time to connect with colleagues who are doing some of the best work and hear about the newest and most cutting edge developments that promise to push our craft out to new audiences.IRE 2010 wrapped up Sunday in Las Vegas. It celebrated amazing work, from the big guns — The New York Times' multi-part and incredibly detailed look at water pollution across America, to the local – our own contributing writer Lee van der Voo's account  in the Lake Oswego Review of corruption in the Lake Oswego (OR) police department. Click here to read that report, called Crossing the Line. In between was coverage of how America handles its returning civilian army, mortgage fraud, church abuse, politicians' expense accounts and Mexican drug cartels. All terrific stuff. And let me note here that Lee along with InvestigateWest's Carol Smith wrote InvestigateWest's outstanding report on sexual assault on college campuses and who is writing InvestigateWest's piece on cruise ship tourism that you see described just to the right of this blog.Vivian Schiller of National Public Radio gave the keynote address Saturday, and underscored what for me was a centerpiece of this year's IRE conference — the role of nonprofit,  investigative reporting centers like InvestigateWest. They are, she said, the future of investigative news, and she urged collaborative efforts between and among the centers large and small and their for-profit colleagues. She spoke of NPR's increased investigative efforts and described non-profit investigative journalism as "catnip for funders" because of the crucial, public service role it plays.

Are you a closet entrepreneur? InvestigateWest editor helps you decide

Wow, I'm on 'the road to Vegas.'That's where John Ensslin put me when he launched his blog on programming for this year's Society of Professional Journalists convention in Las Vegas. It's coming up in October, and I'm on the program with a presentation called, "Crap, my paper closed!"Ensslin is the legal affairs reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette, but he sure gets the subject, because he used to work for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, which closed a couple of short months before the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, my former employer. The closure of the P-I just over a year ago launched the founding InvestigateWest, an independent, nonprofit investigative journalism center serving the Pacific Northwest.His first blog is on my presentation, and you can read it here. I'm flattered John wanted to write about my experience, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with more folks at SPJ.So far, InvestigateWest has released some important stories on issues like toxic parking lot sealants and campus sexual assault, and we've got several more nearing completion. Our staff is hard at work on stories that will surprise you, and make you happy that journalists are still there working to keep corporate and governmental institutions accountable. But I can tell you that it takes courage and blind faith some days to be out there doing what we're doing in a news industry undergoing as much upheaval and transition as this one. But the change brings opportunity and a chance to try new approaches to find new audiences. And that's why InvestigateWest is here.John asked a lot of good questions. I liked this one a lot, because it helps people identify whether they might be an entrepreneur at heart!

Meters for homeless people? Not those kind of meters

Springfield, OR, just became the latest city to add "parking meters" to its streets as a way to reduce panhandling and pay for services for people who are without homes.They've installed  "meters." So instead of paying a quarter or two for a half hour of parking, passersby  plug 50-cents in the red parking meters to provide a shower for a homeless person. You can do more — $1 is a hot meal, $3 is a bus pass and $5 supplies a sleeping bag. The Eugene Register Guard reports the program is administered by St. Vincent De Paul, which collects the money and makes sure it goes directly into services for homeless people.The Springfield effort is modeled on a program in Denver, which helped get folks off the street and into shelter. A report there found that after 18 months the project resulted in a 92 percent reduction in the number of panhandlers in the downtown improvement district. They've also caught on around the country and in Canada, including Montreal and Ottawa. Portland, just up I-5, also has a "meters for the homeless" effort underway.Some homeless advocates, however, don't like the concept, as Matt Palmquist reported in Miller-McCune Online.