One More Idea…

So I’m searching for plane tickets to South Sudan in hopes of going for the one year aniversary of last January’s vote. It’s good to always have one more story idea off in the distance…

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The Story

This is the big story we did. In print it actually said by Lloyd Jones and Erik Eisele, but because I uploaded it to the system it only says my name online. It certainly was not just mine.

The most interesting thing has been the fallout—very little. The only things we’ve received are more tips of things to look at and more reports like those in the story. I expected to hear a lot more criticism, but maybe it’s just a question of not yet.

So that story is done for now, but we still have to fire court paperwork to challenge the refusal of our right to know request under RSA 91-A. I’m interested to hear what a judge says about their attorney’s position.

Defending the Public’s Right to Know

I’ve got a good story coming out tomorrow, written in collaboration with one of my colleagues at the Sun. It’s about a school board member who gets out of control at sports events and school administration’s unwillingness to release information about it. We were able to get people who were familiar with the documents do go on the record, however, and do almost the exact same story as we would have done otherwise. The only difference was an added portion about the school’s refusal and basing the stories on quotes instead of documents. We confirmed with five different people the school received complaints, however, so we know the information is good. And they all went on the record to confirm it.

Then today I got to call the school board members to get their comments. I pushed hard for explanations as to why information about a public official was being kept from the public, and in at least on instance a board member felt I was too aggressive, even hostile. That sucks, since I was only looking for information, but luckily one of my colleagues was able to speak to her later and let her know I hadn’t intended to come off that way.

It is hard to sit by, however, while a board denies the public their right to information. The unfortunate point in this instance is that it was administrators, not board officials, who made the decision. The board members didn’t know anything about what was going on, even though the administration was ostensibly acting in the board’s name. I pushed the board because they should have been made aware of what was going on. They weren’t, and that stinks.

But it has made for a good story, and at the end of the day we did good work. Despite efforts to keep potentially embarrassing information about  a public official private we were able to get it out there. That’s what it’s all about, and it’s nice to be able to finish the day knowing that’s just what we did.

Underground

I caught this program online the other night and was blown away (click here to watch the entire program):

 

Watch Syria Undercover on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

I was impressed by the dedication of the reporter and the level of risk she was willing to take to get the story out, and I told her as much on Twitter.

Any report like this, of course, is only a small part of the story, but when the coverage is so restricted it is wonderful to have someone willing to go where others aren’t. PBS’ Frontline, like NPR’s Poisoned Places series, is an example of excellent investigative reporting in broadcast form. Too rare these days, but stunning when it’s done well. Bravo PBS, eye opening coverage.

Cancelation Policy

Buddy Roemer and John Huntsman both canceled for this week, leaving only “front-runner” Mitt Romney. I put front-runner in quotes only because the latest polls don’t actually place him at number one, but I’m not really sure that doesn’t mean he’s the front-runner.

I do worry the G.O.P. is going to face what I would call “the Kerry Effect” if Romney is nominated. Democrats never really rallied around Senator John Kerry, and therefore he was unable to unseat an otherwise vulnerable George W. Bush. Barack Obama could get the same window into a second term—so few conservatives seem excited about Romney it could be hard for the Republicans to turn out the vote. It does make for an interesting primary season: it’s only November, but the contest already feels over. There aren’t many viable options to Romney, at least not that voters are taking notice of. We’ll see if he can hold onto the lead, and if he does how he’ll fair in the real contest next November.

Simply the Best

This is the best story I’ve every written. If I can do this sort of story once a year I’ll be psyched. If I could pull it off every three months I’d be cleaning house. I went back and read it the other day before I sent it to the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice for consideration for one of their annual awards. I reread it and was doubly impressed that I’d pulled it off. I just put it up on the stories section, and I figured I’d put it in here too. Hopefully I’ll hear good news about the award. It’s $1,000 cash prize. That’d be cool…