Investigative Newsource

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Investigative Newsource
Investigative Newsource Screenshot.jpg
Webpage screenshot from Sept. 25, 2011
Web address
Slogan Data-driven journalism for the common good.
Created by Lorie Hearn
Editor Lorie Hearn (Founder & Executive Director)
Launched 2009

Investigative Newsource (inewsource), formerly The Watchdog Institute, is a nonprofit, investigative news organization located at San Diego State University in San Diego, California, with a bureau in Washington, D.C. The organization's goal is to provide "data-driven journalism for the common good." Their website describes their mission as committed to providing, "deep, thoughtful, data-driven journalism that illuminates government actions, accounts for public monies, provokes a search for solutions to governmental and societal problems and strengthens democracy in the region."[1]

Affiliations and Partnerships[edit]

The Investigative Newsource is a member of the Investigative News Network,[2] and has collaborated with reputable news organizations such as KPBS and the San Diego Union Tribune to co-produce stories for the Southern California area. This has included stories about vaccination opt-outs,[3] county-wide lawsuit fraud,[4] and a local congressman's ties to lobbyists.[5]

National Attention[edit]

In February, 2011, Watchdog reporters Brooke Williams and Matt Pearce broke a story charging Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, with filling congressional staff vacancies with insiders from those industries the House committee regulates. The story was picked up nationally by the Huffington Post[6] as well as radio talk show host Thom Hartmann.[7]

The Huffington Post also picked up an investigation by Watchdog reporter Brooke Williams into an officially sanctioned "congressional cigar club" that Rep. Brian Bilbray sponsored. Lobbyists helped to run the cigar club, which threw lavish parties near the Capitol building, and Bilbray had sponsored or supported legislation that would benefit their clients. In one case, five days after a rooftop party, Bilbray introduced legislation to repeal a medical device tax—and one of the cigar club's officers was also a lobbyist for a big medical device manufacturer.[8]

The Watchdog Institute partnered with the Investigative Reporting Workshop in February 2010 on stories[9] examining federal stimulus dollars flowing to foreign companies. The stories were published by the San Diego Union-Tribune and aired by KGTV,[10] San Diego's ABC affiliate. The investigation was featured nationally[11] by ABC News with Diane Sawyer.

Leadership & Staff[edit]

The organization is led by director and editor Loretta (Lorie) Hearn, a former senior editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune, who launched The Watchdog Institute in August 2009 after leaving the newspaper, as a means of "converting the newspaper's investigative team into a nonprofit organization that seeks to form partnerships with various San Diego media outlets.[12]"

The board of directors include Karin Winner, former editor and v-p/news of the San Diego Union Tribune Media Company, Brant Houston of the University of Illinois College of Media and Charles Lewis, founder and director of the Center for Public Integrity

Watchdog Investigative reporter Brooke Williams previously worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune[13] and the Center for Public Integrity.[14] She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2001. She runs the organization's Washington, D.C. bureau.

The Institute mentors interns in both San Diego and Washington, D.C., including students from the University of Missouri, School of Journalism, who participate in its Washington Program.

Data Center[edit]

Investigative Newsource houses a data center that allows users to search data of public record and create interactive visualizations. The data center includes statistics for state funding for California's basic aid districts, incidences of pertussis throughout California (listed by county), as well record of the payroll for all San Diego County employees.


In September 2011, The Watchdog Institute officially launched a re-branding campaign announcing their new name, Investigative Newsource, and enhanced partnership with KPBS,[15] also located at San Diego State University. The two investigative journalism partners previously collaborated on stories[16] including a four-month investigation on the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine during the pertussis epidemic in California[17] which prompted a CDC investigation[18] in the spring of 2011.

IRS Filing[edit]

The institute is a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation incorporated in California in August, 2009.[19] It has been declared tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service,[20] which means donations to the organization are tax-deductible.


  1. ^ "The Watchdog Institute: About". The Watchdog Institute. 
  2. ^ "Investigative News Network: Members". Investigative News Network. 
  3. ^ "More Parents Opting out of Vaccinations". Watchdog Institute. 2011-08-17. 
  4. ^ Watchdog Institute  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Ortenzi, Tj (2010-09-07). "Brian Bilbray, Cigar Club Sponsor, Backed Bills For Clients Of Lobbyists He Smoked With". Huffington Post. 
  6. ^ Snyder, Whitney (2011-02-28). "Darrell Issa's Team Includes Industry Insiders". Huffington Post. 
  7. ^ "Thom Hartmann: Darrell Issa's team includes industry insiders". Thom Hartmann Program. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Renewable energy money still going abroad, despite criticism from Congress". Investigative Reporting Workshop. 2/8/2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Foreign Firms Benefitting From U.S. Green Energy Funding". ABC 10 News. 2/8/2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "Green Stimulus Jobs Going to China?". ABC News. 2/9/2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ "Goodbye without leaving". Goodbye Without Leaving. 
  13. ^
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  15. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  19. ^
  20. ^ IRS Form 990;; "The Watchdog Institute: About". The Watchdog Institute. 

External links[edit]