Newsletter: September 12, 2013

We’re fast approaching the start of our membership campaign, which will launch next Wednesday, Sept. 18. For the first time, we’ve made membership levels available to you. Join us as a “News Junkie” or an “Inside Source!” If you’d like an advance peek, check out our newly redesigned Donate page.

Thanks to your support, we will be airing and publishing the latest in our series on special taxes next week, as well as an in-depth report on a new movement among parents of kindergarteners in the vaccination debate. And we’re beginning to follow the money in the upcoming mayoral election. The cash is already mounting!

Truth matters. Help us find it. Share this email with a friend.

—- Lorie Hearn, executive director, loriehearn@inewsource.org

Vaccine debate

There’s a new twist in the debate about vaccines among parents of young children, and we’ll bring you the details on radio, television and the web Wednesday.

Reporter Ryann Grochowski, who left us in July to move to New York, is still crunching data for us from afar. She teamed up with KPBS enterprise reporter Claire Trageser to dig into vaccination trends in kindergartens across San Diego.

They found that the local anti-vaccine movement is still very much alive, but the data shows an emerging trend of a different sort.

Tune in to KPBS radio Wednesday, to Evening Edition (Channel 11) at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and of course check out our website for the full story.

Rolling investigations

Reporter Joanne Faryon will bring you the next chapter in our series on a special tax, called Mello-Roos, next week — so this is a perfect time to step back and introduce you to what we call a “rolling investigation.”

Our examination of Mello-Roos — those taxes homeowners in new developments pay for infrastructure — began a year ago as part of an examination of inequities in public education. Joanne was considering the question: If public education is the great equalizer, why are there so many thumbs on the scale?

We looked at different kinds of extra funding that might explain the vast differences in public facilities and education. We took it slowly, deliberately, exhaustively — rolling out our findings over time, rather than in one long narrative. That was the traditional way to deliver investigations, primarily in print. All the pieces are packaged in one section of our website.

The investigation into Mello-Roos spending continues to roll. Tell us what you think!

Truth in labeling

You know you can trust the information you get from inewsource when you click under “Recent Videos” on our homepage and find something that is oh-so-transparently labeled “inewsource promo.”

It begins with the reason inewsource was founded in 2009: Because traditional media outlets were closing down or downsizing, and there was a desperate need for our kind of in-depth investigations.

Dede Alpert, a former state senator and strong inewsource supporter, bolsters the case for inewsource by saying she really believes a democracy depends on the type of information we provide.

Tom Karlo, KPBS general manager, says he wants KPBS to be the region’s “best and most trusted journalism organization” and declares that wouldn’t be possible without its partnership with inewsource.

Keeping a record

Our newsletters are now archived here.
If you missed Brad Racino’s recent chat with our new investigative reporter and data specialist, Joe Yerardi, catch it there.

From blackened to blank

One of Joe’s biggest responsibilities will be prying information from public officials. You get a sense of how frustrating that can be from postings at the ProPublica site, “Redaction Classics: Send Us Your Worst.”

The uninformative responses there reveal many a heavy hand with a felt marker, and they range from pages completely blacked out (as in ProPublica’s request to the Environmental Protection Agency for internal memos about its reporting as well as requests for information on aquifer exemptions) to totally blank pages (665 of them from the Department of Education in response to Cause of Concern’s request regarding discretionary grants in the High School Equivalency Program).

Let’s hope the Department of Education, unlike the Poway School District, didn’t charge for copying.

shadow-ornament

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Lorie Hearn:

Lorie Hearn is the founder and executive director of inewsource.