Building a newsroom, not tearing it down

The gestation period, from the first conversations about creating California Watch, to its launch today, was nearly two years. It has been a long haul but well worth it.

We are excited and energized about where we are. For me on a personal level, it's a gift and huge source of inspiration to be building a newsroom and hiring journalists after too many years of working in environments where innovation and risk taking were not welcome, and, to be candid, the work of the journalists was devalued.

California Watch

As a highly visible project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, California Watch is a turn in a new direction. For 32 years, CIR has done valuable investigative reporting, much of it with "Frontline" and "60 Minutes." But never before has CIR had a team of investigative journalists this large, and never before have we had the flexibility to pursue stories that focus on what arguably is the most important, most complicated, and most messed-up state in the nation.

CIR will continue to do stories of national and international importance. And all of the critical values – accuracy, credibility, operating with a non-partisan approach – will be part of California Watch's ethos.

A core belief and value of California Watch will be collaboration with other organizations. They will be media organizations, large and small, traditional and new, legacy and ethnic. We will partner with universities and research organizations, with content creators and distributors. We will use social networking as it exists, and as it evolves, to reach people and have them reach us. Getting information to communities at every level, through their interests and by geography, will be a core strategy.

But the real value will be our stories. We will reveal, disclose and get information into the sunlight that otherwise might stay hidden or inaccessible, and our goal is to tell stories in multiple platforms – in ways that people want to get them.

Through our publishing partners in print, radio, television, on Web sites and on hand-held devices, we will reach a wide range of audiences. We are going to experiment. We are going to have some big successes, and we will learn from what works and does not work. And we will share this information. We want to be a transparent organization that functions as a team, where we are all valued and where we also value those we serve, the public.

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