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New project will focus on public-interest journalism

Heath Haussamen

Heath Haussamen

I’m helping start a new organization dedicating to fostering, promoting and publishing public-interest journalism in New Mexico. Don’t worry, NMPolitics.net isn’t going anywhere.

For more than six years I’ve worked through NMPolitics.net to provide hard-hitting but fair reporting while also encouraging policy and political debate that promotes the common good.

But it’s been a struggle. The pressure of feeding the daily news cycle has been taxing, and I’ve not been satisfied with the level of reporting NMPolitics.net produces.

As I’ve written before on this site, funding strong, probative journalism in the 21st Century is a daily battle – one that more media outlets than not are losing. The quality of journalism in this country has dropped significantly. The public no longer views journalism as the noble profession it once was, probably with good reason.

I’ve been working for more than two years on a new project I hope will help change that.

New Mexico In Depth is getting ready to launch, and we plan to start publishing later this year. Our goal is to foster, promote and publish journalism in the public interest. Our focuses will include education, poverty, health and politics.

Trip Jennings, who you may know from his reporting stints at The Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Independent and Albuquerque Journal, will serve as New Mexico In Depth’s executive director. I will serve as its deputy director while continuing to run NMPolitics.net.

New Mexico In Depth will produce its own investigative reports and forge partnerships with existing media outlets around New Mexico in a bid to nurture a culture of ambitious journalism that tackles big questions and complex issues.

Our funding

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has made a two-year funding commitment to New Mexico In Depth totaling $525,000. New Mexico In Depth is also funded in part by the McCune Charitable Foundation.


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Here’s what Jennings had to say about the project in a news release we sent out today:

“We are inspired by Kellogg’s belief in the importance of probative journalism that ventures beyond the daily events to seek to explain what it all means to New Mexicans.”

As for me, I said in that release that we are excited by the potential New Mexico In Depth has to foster a stronger journalistic culture in our state and thrilled to be able to devote time and resources to building partnerships that make that a reality.

The Kellogg Foundation (Yes, it was founded by the cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg), focuses domestically in four areas – Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans. Its mission states that it is “guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive” and “works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.”

The McCune Foundation’s mission states that it is “dedicated to enriching the health, education, environment and cultural and spiritual life of New Mexicans.”

We’re grateful to these organizations for being willing to financially support our vision of building a journalistic culture in New Mexico that does a better job of promoting the common good. You can expect the same level of dedication, passion and integrity from my work with New Mexico In Depth that you’ve become accustomed to with NMPolitics.net.

NMPolitics.net isn’t going anywhere

And don’t worry – NMPolitics.net isn’t going anywhere. In the last six years I’ve built this site from nothing into one of the most-read and influential in the state. It’s precious to me, and I’m dedicated to continuing this site even as we start our new project.

In fact, New Mexico In Depth will be sharing its work with other media outlets, including NMPolitics.net, in an attempt to ensure a wider reach. I believe New Mexico In Depth’s work will improve the quality of journalism you’ll read on NMPolitics.net.

I look forward to updating you further on our plans for New Mexico In Depth in the near future, and to continuing to bring you coverage of politics and government through NMPolitics.net.

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19 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. What I would prefer is that the focus of this laudable effort does not become bogged down in the eternal pursuit of cases of what is an illegal donation and what isn’t according to NM Law. The law itself is poorly written and invites ambiguity as to what it designates as illegal, and what instead passes muster as an appropriate use of NM governmentally controlled funds. 

    Government can often serve as a bridge between what funding is available in equity markets, and what isn’t, when it comes to needed initiatives and endeavors. Our present law in NM is so vague, that some can and do attack the Spaceport initiative as an illegal donation to Virgin Galactic. Many organizations and non profits doing worthy public service have funding controlled by governmental agencies acting as fiscal agents. These arrangements are also fraught with potential infringement of “Anti-Donation” rules. 

    Not being a legal expert, I don’t know what to make of some who suggest NM law on anti-donation takes literally what is, in almost all other states, considered to be meant figuratively. In any event, it seems well past time to refine and rewrite this law, so that graft can be controlled while other useful funding proceeds.

  2. If I may be so bold as to make a recommendation for NM In Depth’s inaugural investigation…please follow up with the excellent reporting from NM Watchdog on the Santa Fe Studios/Big Bill/Javier Gonzales/Judge Singleton/Hool Bros./ blatant violation of the state’s anti-donation clause.

    http://newmexico.watchdog.org/13788/santa-fe-studios-part-2-democratic-party-chairman-javier-gonzales-enters-the-witness-protection-program/

  3. If Peter St. Cyr in his comments below is applauding, then I’m tipping my hat as well.

    Peter and KOBTV deserve a Pullitzer for their story this past primary election eve of the deplorable, morally corrupt, generations-old practice of rounding up the homeless and other vulnerable citizens in Espanola and offering them booze in exchange for their votes going to certain candidates.

    http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2643955.shtml?cat=504

    Best of luck and Godspeed, NM In Depth!  Make us proud.

  4. I notice that Mr Molitor who used to appear on this blog, now writes for the NM Watchdog. That  blog seems to be  along the lines of what Heath is writing about here……

  5. Howard Schneider is a Pulitzer prize winning JOURNALIST. Here is the entire April 12, 2012 article not Dr. J’s  little snippet.
    http://open.salon.com/blog/howie_s/2012/04/12/a_true_national_discussion_is_needed_regarding_bigotry
    This is truly an excellent well-written commentary in Salon.

  6. So Mr. Howard Schneider is a “true journalist” and exemplifies the “noble profession”?  How about his lead in an article that appeared April 12, 2012:  ”The tragic Trayvon Martin shooting is the latest racial incident to enter onto the American scene. The biggest question in my mind regarding this episode is whether we are going to once again miss an opportunity to honestly have national and local dialogues regarding race and bigotry.”

    So he immediate leaps to the conclusion the shooting was racially motivated and about bigotry.  This is your example of probative journalism Hemingway?  Perhaps he should be called as a prosecution witness at the trial, he had it all figured out almost at day 1.  Or why even have a trial?  Let Mr. Schneider rule as judge, jury, and punisher.

  7. “Discredited”  ”The public no longer views journalism as the noble profession it once was, probably with good reason.”  Yes, equivalent in anyone’s definition.

  8. Here is Walter Cronkite on good journalism:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlYIC6MU4-s
    Heath – you have done this on your blog.
     
     
     

  9. Vi:
     
    You get used to that; Dr. J’s definition of “facts” is “things he already agrees with”, and his definition of “opinion” is, “things that don’t fit his preconceived world view”; Just for fun I have been keeping an ever-increasing list of the words that Dr. J frequently uses incorrectly: today’s addition, “discredited”, but which he apparently means, “people he disagrees with”.
     
    Heath, Trip is just the right partner for this endeavor, and I look forward to the results.

  10. Dr. J has no concept of true journalism. It is a noble profession. Here is a brief excellent video on journalism and truth by Howard Schneider is the founding dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University For more than 35 years. Schneider was a reporter and editor at Newsday. For nearly 18 of those years, he was managing editor and then editor. This is a professional journalist to the highest degree.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syZMnIwij0s
     
    Dr. J – take a journalism course – it will be very educational.
     
     

  11. Vi, I had not intended to be negative, just aware of critical issues with this sort of undertaking in the tainted and discredited  field of “journalism”, as Heath so honestly points out.  I never said or implied this wouldn’t work, in fact I truly and sincerely hope it does, I am as hungry as anyone for fair, objective, and honest sources for news and analysis without personal opinions and taint coloring it.  These types of foundations can be problematic since their board, management, and purposes can be a bit disjointed and unclear .  I am very well aware of Kellogg, in fact one of my close college friends is a Trustee at Kellogg, and we talk frequently.  The McCune organization is much less open, but they do support many charities.  What I don’t know is what these charity foundations expect from their money.  I hope it is honest, open, nonpartisan, objective, real journalism, let’s hope that happens. This will be a difficult undertaking and no one should approach it with a Pollyanna attitude.  But given the current principles involved, I am optimistic.  

    However, the term “probative journalism” used here has some negatives associated with it.  For instance, Bill Moyers has been described by the left as such an animal, but he is not fair, objective, honest, and nonpartisan enough to evoke that term from anyone else.  When you offer evidence or proof to be “probative” about something, that assumes there are actual objective facts and evidence to provide.  This is a problem with the two most divisive areas of our society, politics and religion.  And since public policy is nothing but politics by another name, I worry about what is probative to one is not to another.

  12. Here are a few fun movie scenes on newspapers in its hey days!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe you need a Declaration of Principles- Just joking. Here is a scene from Citizen Kane:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAE9b4YWVhQ
    Here is how you should run a newspaper – from Citizen Kane:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzhb3U2cONs
    You should be like the editor in Deadline USA – Humphrey Bogart.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgdE-qPv6kw
    “That’s the press, baby”
     

  13. Dr. J, your comments are usually negative, even about this new and promising project.  Why not wait to criticize when the news site actually publishes?  You seem to have a bit of a closed-mind, I know-it-all attitude. Give Heath and Trip some room to publish first and then try your best to offer constructive criticism.

    I, for one, am excited about the support from both these foundations. We appreciate your dedication to in-depth reporting, Heath. 

  14. Great news, Heath!

    For sure, we need more in-depth reporting and analyses of national and local events and public policy issues that are important to New Mexicans, and that can be counted on to be impartial and accurate. Good journalism and journalists went out with the likes of Walter Conkrite, Marlene Sanders and others. It’s now evolved into the current, mouth-foaming cable news pundits who only care about pushing their own ideology and promoting their books. Local media and certain political bloggers don’t deserve much praise either.

    It will be exciting to see how your new venture goes. Good luck!!   

      

  15. What a great opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations.

  16. The proof will be in the pudding here.  All will be watching very closely for personal opinions, exaggerations, partisan agendas, and cherry-picking of stories and “facts” with ulterior motives in mind.  Just be careful of your agenda and objectivity, the words “public interest” do not engender trust to me any more than “fairness”, since it is so subjective and in the opinion of the writer or speaker.

  17. This is great news for all civic minded New Mexicans.  What a big win for Watch Dog journalism in New Mexico.  Congrats to you both.

  18. Consider please, as you go, establishing credibility by giving readers an opportunity to evaluate same, perhaps on every report.  I am supposing that you would be able to report that a vast majority of your readers believe that you’re telling them the truth.
    Good luck and God spede.

  19. Kudos to Trip and yourself for embarking on this endeavor, New Mexico deserves journalism that has the public interest in mind. Salud!  

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