Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weaving Journalists

The New York Times publishes an interesting story about "investigative journalists for hire". Via the concept of crowdfunding, a community that wants something investigated, will raise money from many local citizens, each contributing a small amount. This will allow journalists to self-organize around stories that are both interesting and have local grass-roots support.

Cleveland and NE Ohio have a big corruption story brewing, but the local paper -- The Plain Dealer -- is in the middle of offering hundreds of buyouts to reporters and staff. The PD has done a good job of reporting the beginning of the investigation -- rumor had it that 22 reporters were on the case -- but will probably have to reduce their focus as they downsize.

A local grass-roots effort -- Map the Mess -- has sprung up to gather public information about the Cuyahoga County Corruption Scandal. They are a group of local citizens that have day jobs and families that prevent them from fully diving into this intricate story. The effort appears to need some experienced investigative journalists willing to take the reigns and lead. Maybe a triangle needs to be closed between the local MtM folks and the Spot Us community in the NYT article?

Below is one of the early maps of the mess using the "indirect quid pro quo" concept. This map was published by one of the volunteer journalists on the MtM project. The red arrows show "flow of benefit". The diagram uses data taken directly from this Plain Dealer article.


Anonymous said...

For the arrows denoting "flow of benefit" in the diagram, I can easily identify the benefit in four cases. However, I'm not clear what the flow of benefit is for the link between Frank Russo and the Ohio Liquor Control Board. What is the benefit conferred on the Liquor Control Board? Pleasing a powerful politician?

Valdis Krebs said...

The benefit from Russo to the OLCB is not as clear as the rest of the flows. With influentials vouching for the liquor establishment, it makes OLCB's job easier -- info comes to them rather than they having to dig for it. They also have some plausible deniability if anything goes wrong.

And yes, many state employees enjoy interacting with powerful politicians.