InvestigateWest’s sustained in-depth coverage of a crisis of historic proportions in Washington state’s foster care system was instrumental in spurring six new state laws, including one setting up a new state agency to renew state efforts to help abused and neglected children and teenagers. The work also spurred $48 million in new state funding for the foster care system.
Hundreds of U.S. newspapers have closed, yet most Americans surveyed believe local news outlets are in good financial shape and relatively few pay for local news. InvestigateWest Executive Director Robert McClure spoke on a panel on “The Future of Our Local Press” at the University of Puget Sound, sponsored by the City Club of Tacoma and the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County.
InvestigateWest advises the Washington State Sunshine Committee, which advises the Washington Legislature, to proceed cautiously when considering whether to further restrict citizens’ access to information about juveniles through the Washington State Public Records Act.
Washington became the first state in the nation Thursday to ban toxic asphalt sealants made from cancer-causing industrial waste that have been spread over vast swaths of the nation’s cities and suburbs.
Try not to get arrested.That was my advice to the young journalists traveling thousands of miles to cover the United Nations climate-treaty negotiations going on in Copenhagen this month. I said it because it’s a truism: a journalist in jail can’t file. He or she is not able to do what he or she is there to do — send back information for the world to see. And we knew there were likely to be some massive arrests as young activists sought in Copenhagen to spur real commitments to tackling climate change.Fortunately, InvestigateWest Editor and Executive Director Rita Hibbard was part of the discussion. She quickly followed up my admonition with something like: “But make sure you’re close enough to capture the action.” She emphasized that we can’t very well cover a protest march without being pretty close to the marchers, and that we had a right to be there. InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow found himself yesterday trying to balance those two pieces of advice in the blur of a fast-moving demonstration. He was in a group of about 275 demonstrators arrested when Copenhagen cops cracked down on a protest that, to that point at least, had been peaceful. (It should be said, though, that the protesters had been pretty open about the fact that they were trying to shut down Copenhagen’s harbor.)Now, Chris probably could have gotten away. InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly, photograph Mark Malijan and videographer Blair Kelly were there and managed to scoot. But should Chris have been arrested? Absolutely not! It really honks me off that the police not only detained him at the scene — it’s possible to make a mistake in the heat of the moment — but insisted on taking him to one of the makeshift holding areas that are serving as jails for the climate protesters.