The addition of Scribe comes at an important time for think tank journalism. Rapid expansion at the state level — mostly through the work of the Franklin Center and State Policy Network — inspired Heritage to move in this direction in 2010. And as national nonprofit journalism organizations continue to gain prominence, we are paying close attention to the trend.
Scribe will mix breaking news and analysis with long-form investigative stories. We’ll produce news-oriented video packages and short documentaries on policy issues. We also plan to offer a mix of traditional blog features to complement The Foundry.
Much of the work we’ve done over the past year has found a home on The Foundry or at outlets such as the Washington Examiner, FoxNews.com, Politico, Human Events or the Daily Caller. Those publications continue to give our work great exposure, but we wanted a destination that provides readers a central location at Heritage as well.
You might be wondering why a 38-year-old think tank is embarking on investigative reporting. It’s a decision we contemplated for months, ultimately deciding there were so many stories to research and investigate that it was a natural extension of our policy work. Heritage remains a research and educational institution first and foremost focused on formulating and promoting conservative public policies. The work of our Center for Media and Public Policy allows us to execute that mission more effectively.
Take the recent example of Yucca Mountain, in the news of late because Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko withheld information from his fellow commissioners about the proposed nuclear waste repository. Last fall Heritage requested the NRC’s safety evaluation report. It took months for the agency to respond to our Freedom of Information Act request, but when it was released, Heritage was the first to have it, prompting interest across Capitol Hill.
Then there’s the case of the Wisconsin public-sector union protests. Heritage’s reporting team was on the ground shortly after the protests began in February, producing a popular myth vs. fact video, securing an interview with Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and telling a story about labor unions that complements our policy research.
Oftentimes our work will expose stories that are below the radar and don’t get the type of attention we think they deserve. Take last week’s hearing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission on crib safety. In a matter of weeks, an estimated 100,000 cribs face disposal because of a government-mandated deadline the commission refused to move. It’s not that the cribs are unsafe or a hazard to children; the CPSC simply refused to listen to the concerns of business about selling the cribs before the June 28 deadline.
It’s these stories and others we’ll feature on Scribe. Of course, many of our ideas come from readers. We’re always on the lookout for tips and suggestions, so don’t hesitate to email us at scribe[at]heritage.org.