This is an important week for inewsource

Today, we are launching our new Investigative News Fund to sustain and expand our watchdog reporting. The fund will support our investigative team, its equipment, supplies and outreach in communities.

Why this matters

Our community-powered Investigative News Fund sustains and expands local watchdog reporting with national impact. The fund supports the inewsource award-winning team, their equipment, supplies and outreach in communities.

This community-supported fund will power our newsroom through the rest of this year and beyond, making possible the accountability reporting that holds government and powerful interests to account. If you’ve taken a look at our 2022 Impact Report, you’ve seen the concrete change that has resulted from our investigative journalism – when we expose problems, people pay attention and things change for the better.  

That’s what distinguishes inewsource from other local media: We focus on finding problems in San Diego and Imperial counties that affect quality of life in the area and exposing them so they can be fixed. Two of our staff-written stories in the past year caught the attention of members of Congress, others addressed life and death scenarios for people in communities of color, while others spotlighted the needs of vulnerable veterans.

Some additional examples of impact from our work: 

  • San Diego County officials have stopped sending clients to Veterans Village of San Diego following multiple deaths at the nonprofit’s rehab center and ongoing concerns about its operations. Since early June, inewsource has been reporting on illegal drugs sales, overdoses and deaths at the facility, which once was a nationally known model for its veteran’s assistance programs. State and federal officials launched inquiries.
  • The San Diego Association of Governments now has new policies meant to limit staff’s lavish restaurant spending and credit card misuse after a scathing audit, first reported on by inewsource, flagged expenses. inewsource dug further into the spending revealing the lavish, improper spending.
  • We found most police agencies spend thousands of dollars every year to collect drivers’ location data by scanning license plates on people’s cars. Our reporting revealed that five departments in San Diego County were sharing that information illegally with hundreds of other law enforcement agencies across the country. License plate data contains private information, which could be used by anyone who has access to find out where someone is going and who they spend their time with. We found that the vast majority of information collected had nothing to do with solving crime or protecting the public. As a result of our dogged questioning, all five departments made the decision to either end or suspend the practice of illegally sharing license plate reader information with out-of-state agencies.

inewsource is an independent investigative newsroom exposing injustice and holding power to account in San Diego and beyond since 2009. It’s essential work for our democracy and thriving communities, especially now. And we couldn’t do it without support from community members like you.

Traditional advertising-heavy news organizations have been steadily plummeting for years, reducing both their delivery of news products and the issues they cover. No one else is going to provide the kind of fact-based, nonpartisan watchdog reporting that inewsource does. But that kind of investment in community-based reporting requires financial support from people who believe that local journalism still has the potential to change communities for the better. 

In order to launch the Investigative News Fund, we needed to raise an initial $500,000 for the effort and we’ve done that. The successful completion of that fundraising campaign is in itself an important step in this program. It shows that local residents care enough about our accountability journalism and its value to support it with their hard-earned dollars. 

“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your support of investigative journalism” said Sandra Timmons, chair of the inewsource board of directors. “Because you stepped up and demonstrated that fact-based, impactful journalism is important to you, we have raised the $500,000 needed to launch our new Investigative News Fund. 

“Your donations were matched by committed board members and NewsMatch, a national fundraising organization that supports nonprofit local news. We thank you!”

Nonprofit news is often more representative, more responsive, and more closely tied to local communities, a recent industry article stated. Nonprofit news has created meaningful new reporting capacity for American journalism, but its long-term success and impact depend on community support like the Investigative News Fund. 

As the newsroom leader at inewsource, I am often filled with pride and a great sense of accomplishment when we complete an investigation. That’s not just because the work is difficult or the project was a complicated intellectual challenge, but because public and private officials have really worked hard at trying to prevent us from making community problems public. Had we not looked into a problem, it most likely would have remained hidden and people would have continued to suffer. Bringing important public policy issues into the light is essential to our work.

Community support for the Investigative News Fund will help guarantee we can continue to have reporters spending days, weeks or months asking tough questions of public officials whose programs aren’t serving the public as promised, or building sets of data that reveal disparities in how certain groups are denied life-saving healthcare services. 

Our Investigative News Fund already has more than 350 inaugural community supporters and we would appreciate adding you to the list of supporters. For more information about how to support the effort, please visit here.

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Mark J. Rochester is a former inewsource managing editor. Previously, he was editor in chief of Type Investigations, a national investigative newsroom headquartered in Manhattan. He has held senior management positions overseeing investigative journalism from New York to California, having been senior...