Next week, the Strib will debut what management describes as a “watchdog” blog, Whistleblower. It’s part packaging — wrangling the paper’s public-service work into one place — and part social networking, luring reader tips and (if the manpower holds up) answering their questions.
It’ll all be online, with a Sunday Metro feature to clue print readers into the deal and showcase a “Catch of the Week.” Miscreants, start trembling!
The memo from managing editor Rene Sanchez follows below.
Next week we’ll be introducing an important new watchdog blog called Whistleblower. It will be an online site where we showcase all of our watchdog journalism on a daily basis — from our largest investigative projects to quick, small stories from all sections that have a watchdog spirit.
It will also be a place where we’ll encourage readers to ask us questions about their governments or their communities — and we’ll strive to answer them.
[Metro Topics team leader] James Shiffer will be coordinating this effort for an hour or so every day, and he may eventually get some assistance from online. But we’ll need a little occasional help from you or your reporters, too.
As tips from readers come in, at times we’ll need to ask a reporter for quick guidance — getting a phone number for a government department or community institution on their beat, for example. Or we may need to seek out their perspective if a reader raises an issue relevant to subjects they cover. Reporters could even carve out a little time and give James a short blog post of their own in response to a reader query. Of course, if we get any tips or questions about a potentially big story on someone’s beat, that will be passed along right away.
As we get going on this initiative, I’d also like to find a way to carve out small, fixed promo space in the Wednesday Extras that would remind readers every week that we have this blog and encourage them to bring questions to it.
You can work with James and the person designing the extras on that point. Every Sunday on B3, we’ll also be striving to reverse-publish a watchdog blog post or two from the past few days, maybe call it “Catch of the Week” or something. Others papers are having real success with similar blogs.
With just a little help from you or your reporters every now and then, I’m sure that our site can also become a destination for our readers — and one more important reminder to them that we are committed to public service journalism.
If you have any or many questions, please talk to James, or [Online editor] Will [Tacy]. They can tell you more about the nuts and bolts of the site, and give you a preview you of how we expect it to look on a daily basis once we start. We certainly welcome any suggestions, too. Thanks a lot for lending a hand to this modest but important project.