In a remarkable turn of events, The Washington Independent (TWI) has been accredited to join the Obama and McCain campaigns full time, as members of the traveling press corps. There are only five newspapers left in America that regularly travel with the candidates, and TWI is now among them.
We expect that this close access to the candidates will enable us to provide unique insights into the evolution of their character, and go beyond the news cycle that all too often recycles and regurgitates the same information.
Our Fellow, Sridhar Pappu, flew with Obama to Michigan, and filed a combination of video and text reporting. He joins Senator McCain later this week. You can read the press release about this exciting development, here.
Washington Independent inaugurated its new series on John McCain with John Dougherty’s expose of McCain’s sinking popularity among Arizona Republicans, raising the possibility that the senator’s own home state could be in play this fall. The article was picked up by The Huffington Post, which brought thousands of new viewers to our site.
Readers also responded in large numbers to Suemedha Sood’s investigation into the skyrocketing costs of new nuclear plant construction and whether federal subsidies can, or should, continue to support the industry.
Turning overseas, Spencer Ackerman peeled back the optimistic veneer of Laura Bush’s recent visit to Afghanistan to reveal the current state of the U.S.’s seven-year-old military operation there, which a former CIA official described simply as "stuck."
Erin Rosa’s reporting on the efforts by the U.S. Secret Service and the city of Denver to withhold information about public demonstration zones at this summer’s Democratic National Convention was picked up by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Fellows continued their aggressive coverage of the upcoming convention with J.C. O’Connell’s exclusive look at the anticipated rise in prostitution and human trafficking during the event, and the efforts of police and social workers to protect women and children from such seldom-covered abuses.
Michigan Messenger garnered national recognition this week with the news that fellow Eartha Jane Melzer will receive an honorable mention for the Sandy Hume Award in political journalism from The National Press Club. The prize is to be given in recognition of Melzer’s investigative reporting on Sovereign Deed, a private disaster-response firm. Melzer revealed the firm’s founder had lied about his military record and his history of fraud while winning millions of dollars in tax abatements from the state government.
And Melzer remains on that important story, reporting this week that the firm has been cleared by federal authorities to pursue plans for its Michigan training center.
With the state emerging as a key battleground in the presidential election, Ed Brayton explained why, and Todd Spencer got David Bonior, former congressman and John Edwards’ campaign manager, to identify the three most important counties for presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
Andy Birkey shared a heretofore untold story about Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s cultivation of evangelicals to shed light on the widespread speculation that Pawlenty is being considered as a running mate for John McCain. Paul Demko profiled three Minnesota political operatives atop the Obama campaign. Demko also kept up with Al Franken’s Senate campaign and its continuing problems.
The site received professional acclaim from the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, winning two awards at the group’s June 12 banquet. MNIndy too first place in the best independent online news story category for Paul Schmelzer’s analysis piece, "Annarama! Anna Nicole Smith and the Experience Newspaper." The entire Independent staff, finally, took home third place in the Best Independent Web site category.
Iowa Independent fellows braved rain and rising waters to give its readers thorough coverage of one of the week’s biggest national stories – the state’s widespread, flooding. Video from Chase Martyn and Lynda Waddington captured the catastrophe, while Dien Judge reported on the impact on farmers. The IIndy writers also went beyond the floods’ immediate effects to uncover its impacts on state politics, including the postponement of both party conventions and the response of elected officials.
The team’s efforts have been rewarded by a handsome spike in traffic.
New Mexico Independent continues its aggressively local focus on politics and public life. Gwyneth Doland took a close look at New Mexico’s increasingly powerful Hispanic vote and talked to experts about whether Gov. Bill Richardson can help deliver the state for the Democrats. Answer: probably.
Heath Haussamen, meanwhile, offered an exclusive analysis of the departure of state Minority House Whip Dan Foley and how his absence may change the way business will be done in the Roundhouse.
DEPARTMENT OF GOOD NEWS
Food prices spur a return to gardening — Eartha Melzer, Michigan Messenger.
A simple click for hunger — Denise Tessier, New Mexico Independent
Eartha Melzer of Michigan Messenger reported on a return to gardening as people try to come to grips with rising food prices, and Denise Tessier of New Mexico Independent showed readers how they can help stem the tide of worldwide hunger with a simple click of the computer mouse.