By Bob Charest and Nancy West
What’s worse than facing down a corrupt official and trying to get his side of the story? Or talking to the grieving family of an accident victim whose death could have been avoided? Or a state board member who doesn’t seem to understand that he’s conducting the people’s business, not his own?
For most of us in investigative journalism, the absolute worst thing we, the fearless and intrepid members of the Fourth Estate, fear is asking for money! Most of us have worked in traditional print and broadcast media, where the boundary between journalism and advertising was an impenetrable brick wall. The new media models require we assume new roles, and for many of us, the business side of the business is a duty we find frightening.
But seeking out sources of revenue we must do, and to survive, we must do it well. At the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, a 501c3 charitable organization which operates the website, InDepthNH.org, we must obtain funding to continue providing New Hampshire with the kind of hard-hitting, important journalism that has been fast disappearing from other media sources.
Now past its one-year anniversary, InDepthNH.org has broken many important stories since its inception Sept. 1, 2015. We reported how mentally ill people who are a danger to themselves or others are housed at the state prison Secure Psychiatric Unit even though they haven’t committed a crime.
InDepthNH.org also reported about a man who was incarcerated at the state prison Secure Psychiatric Unit who believed he was wrongly deemed incompetent to stand trial and locked up for seven years as being mentally ill instead of standing trial. At least one psychiatrist testified the man is not mentally ill and InDepthNH.org shined light on his case that eventually helped lead to his release. We were the first news outlet in the state to cover the secret Probate Court hearings at the invitation of the man involved. These stories and more simply would not have been reported had we not been here.
Our business model is designed so that any locally produced news coverage is offered to other state and local news sources, including newspapers, television and radio stations, for free. By and through its website, InDepthNH.org, the center reports on news that its founder, investigative journalist Nancy West with over 30 years of news experience, has determined will augment the coverage provided by other media sources within the state.
We try not to duplicate coverage and plan to raise the quality and quantity of investigative and State House news reporting in New Hampshire. With your help, one day we will be able to hire an environmental reporter as well. These days, the State House press room in Concord is often empty unlike a decade ago when as many as 10 reporters would crowd together to cover the workings of government and network with the people in the know.
We believe democracy is threatened without a vibrant press. We work to hold government accountable and encourage civil discourse that ultimately leads an enlightened citizenry to community action.
Media outlets all over the country are struggling financially, and in New Hampshire, the state of news can only be described as dismal.
We at the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism need monetary support to continue. We are looking at any and all revenue streams, from underwriting, individual memberships, private and commercial sponsorships, foundation grants and any and all donations.
Please help us keep doing the important work we hope to accomplish for years to come in New Hampshire. Your donation will help us make a difference. You can click the donate button at InDepthNH.org or for large donations, call Nancy West at 603-738-5635. Don’t be shy if you would prefer to volunteer instead of writing a check. We need your help.
And don’t forget about the big Christmas Party to introduce InDepthNH.org to the public. All are invited to join newsies on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Stone Church in Newmarket. Friend us on FaceBook for more info.