If you're a regular reader of this site you've probably been noticing an increasing frequency of posts with that little "TPMmuckraker.com Advance Copy" icon stuck in the text. And, if you look closely at those posts, you'll see that my name doesn't appear in the signature at the bottom.
So let me explain what that's all about.
Back in November -- which seems like a very long time ago -- I told you that I wanted to "launch a new blog dedicated to chronicling, explaining and reporting on the interconnected web of public corruption scandals bubbling up out of the reigning Washington political machine."
We did a fundraiser and got contributions for the project from almost 3000 TPM Readers. And now we're about ready to get started. As promised, we hired two full-time reporter-bloggers for TPMmuckraker.com, one based out of our new office in New York and another based in Washington, DC.
Paul Kiel you've already gotten to know through the Daily Muck column he's been writing every morning over at TPMCafe. Paul has worked at Harpers and written for L Magazine. And he had some key experience working as a paralegal at a law firm specializing in white collar defense work. So that comes in handy for him as he's making his way through an indictment or sentencing memorandum. Paul had good experience for the job and he came well recommended. But I hired him mainly because the letter he wrote applying for the job and then some sample posts I had him write made me think he got how this works -- digging for muck, looking for that delicious Duke Cunningham-worthy detail. And I haven't been disappointed.
Then just two days ago, our second full-time reporter-blogger came on the job. Justin Rood, formerly of Congressional Quarterly and Government Executive magazine, will be reporting for TPMmuckraker.com from Washington, the veritable den of iniquity itself. I met Justin a few years back when I still lived in DC. And we've corresponded off and on since then, particularly about his interest in so-called collaborative or open-source journalism (the sort of stuff we did with the DeLay Rule or the Social Security fight last year). Even with the generous support of TPM Readers, we still had to put this operation together on a pretty modest budget. So we didn't have a lot of money to throw around. And we needed to make every hire count. With all that in mind, I hired Justin because I wanted one of those reporters who just works the phone and finds the sources and scours the documents until he runs the story to ground.
So, that's our team. Justin and Paul. I'll be general editor in the background, with Kate Cambor as Managing Editor.
We plan to get underway next week. The Daily Muck and these Advance Copy posts we're doing here will all be rolled into the new site, along with our Document Collection, a collection of bios of all the major scandals players and a bunch else. We won't be launching with any fanfare or announcement or glitz. If all goes according to plan, we'll just start rounding up the corruption news of the day and breaking stories.
Now, one other point I'd like to make. I had the idea to start this new site for a few different reasons. One was that I'd like to have a site like this that I could read. Another was that I've been increasingly interested in blogs as a hybrid form of journalism.
But the most immediate reason is this: Most of the stuff I come up with on TPM starts with readers -- tips, insights that shed new light on already reported stories, pointers to articles, scuttlebutt that a little reporting can turn into hard news. I've discussed this before on the site. But the stream of emails we get into the site everyday is a resource of simply inestimable value -- something journalists with conventional publications just don't have access to. But as the site has grown, the volume of tips and leads has grown. But my ability to run them down has remained pretty static. So lots of good leads and stories just go unpursued.
But I figured that with a couple hungry reporters who could devote themselves to doing this full-time and a few interns to help them, we could bust open a lot more stories, make more trouble and just have a lot more fun. So that's what we're going to try to do.
From you, here's what we need. Keep the tips coming. It's as easy as clicking the comments link and shooting us a quick email. They all get read. Are you up on the hill? Tell us the scuttlebutt you're hearing. Keep us posted. Have a lead for a story? Want to discreetly pass it on? Let us know. Have documents? We want documents. See a story that needs more attention? Drop us a line and we'll get right on it.
They've got muck; we've got rakes.