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Why It's Needed

Watchdog journalism in your city: Worth paying for.

Put independent, non-partisan reporters back to work.

Buy Good Stories. Unleash the Watchdogs. Change the Planet.

The number of reporters who work for you — the public — and who have their eyes on the public's business is at a critical low.

Thousands of professional journalists have lost their jobs in recent years as the web has transformed the media economic model that has sustained American journalism and a free press for more than a century. 

Many of these laid off journalists are veteran investigative reporters. They are reporters who know how to navigate public records and open meeting laws and defend the public's right to know. They have dug into the public's business at city halls, county commissions, school boards, circuit courts, state bureaucracies, and federal agencies.

We built Watchdog City so you can put these independent, non-partisan professional reporters back to work for you.

Watchdog City is calling on you to unleash the watchdogs: We ask you to help independent journalists rebuild beat coverage and watchdog investigative reporting in your city by supporting their efforts and buying their stories.

Watchdog City's marketplace creates a system that allows individual journalists to sell their stories directly to the public and create News Hubs, which are digital publications, video shows or podcasts.

Participating Watchdog CityTM Journalists distinguish themselves by pledging to uphold standards of non-partisan journalistic integrity that preserve independence and maintain credibility.

You decide if these journalists are successful — by buying their stories and evaluating their work for other news consumers.

Watchdog City gives you a tool to measure journalists'  professionalism and credibility with our credibility rating system. You help us protect journalism's core values.

At the same time, the Watchdog City marketplace promotes entrepreneurialism that serves the public good.

Journalist or Blogger: Watchdog City Provides a Distinction

The good news of the Web's media transformation is this: Now more than at any other time in history, previously unheard voices can gather and share information across town or across the globe without the aid or interference of mass media corporate barons who buy ink by the barrel or control the public airwaves.

The blogosphere has opened wide the doors for those previously unheard voices, and Web 2.0 technologies have blurred the lines between creators and consumers of news content and invited the public to participate at unprecedented levels.

Despite a digital information explosion, tens of thousands of professional journalists have been laid off or abandoned their profession in the past decade as publicly-traded mega media companies have sought to satisfy Wall Street's profit demands amidst an ever-fragmenting advertising landscape.

Deep newsroom staffing cuts have forced editors and producers around the country to all but abandon investigative reporting and watchdog journalism along with a commitment to thoroughly cover the communities they serve. Publishers are blending editorial and advertising content, and in some smaller markets, indeed it appears that the news is for sale. While the public service contributions of some journalistic stars continue to standout, the horizon for sustaining quality journalism has grown dark.

The health of American democracy is intertwined with watchdog reporting and a healthy free press. But the fourth estate is severely crippled, and transparency in all levels of government has suffered because of it. We are awash in partisan commentators expressing opinions — but we lack independent, conflict-free reporters who will do the hard digging to shed light on the public's business.         

Many professional journalists who've left traditional media companies now struggle to support themselves and solid journalism by creating advertising or donation-supported blogs or news portals. This struggle comes even though many of these reporters and editors have built solid reputations for credibility and accuracy in the communities they serve. They are trusted brands. They have a following.

Yet once out from under the old media banner, professional journalists are heaped in with the noisy morass of bloggers who may or may not operate under professional journalists' standards. Conversely, no system or method exists for bloggers lacking old-media credentials to distinguish themselves as practicing independent standards-based journalism.

Most problematic is the difficult time the public has searching for and finding reporters doing bona fide journalism outside mainstream media outlets. As well, the public is without a tool to measure credibility and trustworthiness in the blogosphere.

Watchdog City provides this tool with its rating system and account structure: To call yourself a journalist and earn a Watchdof City Press credential, you must pledge to uphold professional journalism standards and submit to a standards-based rating system. The Watchdog City Journalists Code of Ethics is based on the tenets of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics and other major media organizations.

Watchdog City's credibility rating system allows the public audience to hold Watchdog City journalists accountable to standards of fairness, accuracy and purity from conflicts of interest and corrupting advertising influences. We also provide a copyright and abuse patrol mechanism to hold both journalists and bloggers accountable.

As a media consumer you can vote with your wallet — and buy quality work from journalists and bloggers who abide by the standards that support the Watchdog CityTM community. Watchdog City's architecture will help bloggers thrive too by providing them with a secure mechanism to sell their content, whether it is opinion or expertise.

Watchdog City is founded on two key assumptions: The public is willing to buy stories and put independent journalists back to work shedding light on the public's business, and honesty and transparency can prevail in a self-regulated community marketplace.

Help us unleash the watchdogs and change the planet. 

— Gina Edwards & Cathy Zollo

Investigative Reporters & Founders of Watchdog City

American consumers are noticing the effects of newsroom cuts. Newspaper journalism staffs have dipped below 1978 levels.

► Read "The State of the News Media 2013"

 

"The fourth estate is severely crippled, and transparency in all levels of government has suffered because of it.

We are awash in partisan commentators expressing opinions — but we lack independent, non-partisan, conflict-free reporters who will do the hard digging to shed light on the public's business. 

We built Watchdog City so you can put reporters back to work for you.

You decide if these journalists are successful by buying their stories and evaluating their work for other news consumers.

You help protect journalism's core values by buying from Watchdog City Journalists who pledge to uphold standards of journalistic integrity."

► Read about Watchdog City's standards for journalists.