Something new, please

With the constant failure of the mainstream to hold governments to account for a litany of misdeeds, this project sounds intriguing:

As struggling newspapers across the country cut back on investigative reporting, a new kind of journalism venture is hoping to fill the gap.

Paul E. Steiger, who was the top editor of The Wall Street Journal for 16 years, and a pair of wealthy Californians are assembling a group of investigative journalists who will give away their work to media outlets.

The nonprofit group, called Pro Publica, will pitch each project to a newspaper or magazine (and occasionally to other media) where the group hopes the work will make the strongest impression. The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeeds in government, business and organizations.

Nothing quite like it has been attempted, and despite having a lot going for it, Pro Publica will be something of an experiment, inventing its practices by trial and error. It remains to be seen how well it can attract talent and win the cooperation of the mainstream media.

We surely need some decent reporting in Australia. The six-week election campaign has barely started, but we already have to suffer through writing like this, too-clever-by-half analysis and cheer-leading. Parochialism has a name, and it’s called the “two game race”, with journalists simply seeing the choice between the Labor Party and government as little more than spectator sport.