In Conversation with Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

I was thrilled to connect once again with Trevor Aaronson at Florida Center for Investigative Reporting after yesterday’s post and hear a bit more about the exciting year they’ve had.

As a nonprofit journalism organization, FCIR strives to do public interest journalism that has an impact

Thanks for your continued support for FCIR. And, yes, it’s amazing that Amendment 4 has passed. It has the potential to reshape the voting landscape in Florida, with the potential of more than 1 million voters coming on to the rolls. It’s hard to know exactly what role our documentary short “Unforgiven” played in this whole process –some have been quite generous to us – but I feel confident in saying we at least had some impact on the conversation here, given the widespread distribution of “Unforgiven” and how quickly Roderick Kemp’s voting rights were restored after its release. As a nonprofit journalism organization, FCIR strives to do public interest journalism that has an impact – and so we take pride in a situation like this one.

What was FCIR’s biggest win(s) in 2018?

What is the impact on Florida’s policy and preparation when state government refuses to acknowledge at all the growing dangers related to climate change?

We focused this year on a partnership with Florida’s NPR member stations on climate change and government inaction. We still have a couple of stories in this series that will be published later this month. For FCIR, this was an important series because we had reported a few years ago, in a story for which we received global attention, how Florida Gov. Rick Scott had banned the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from official state communications. Our series this year aimed to try answer the question: What is the impact on Florida’s policy and preparation when state government refuses to acknowledge at all the growing dangers related to climate change?

What’s next for FCIR in 2019?

I know we’d have the same interest in the new administration even if Andrew Gillum had won.

We’re still having internal conversations about the thrust of coverage for next year, but I suspect that the new governor, Ron DeSantis, and his administration will be a focus. This is the first new state government in Florida in eight years, and DeSantis is a curious political animal – an early Trump supporter who’s be largely reared in the right-wing media bubble. How he’ll run the state is still a very open question. That said, though, I know we’d have the same interest in the new administration even if Andrew Gillum had won. We’re often asked why our investigations focus so heavily on Republicans, since we are a nonpartisan organization. It’s a fair question, but the truth is that our mandate is to do stories that impact the entire state, and for two decades now, Republicans have controlled Tallahassee. There is only one Democrat in statewide office in Florida. So it’s not that we choose to investigate Republicans. It’s just that we choose to investigate statewide office holders, and voters are choosing Republicans for those positions.

Are there any other non-profits or direct services organizations in Florida that you’d like to give a shoutout to?

We partnered with two nonprofits this years on a few stories, MapLight and Capital & Main, and both organizations deserve consideration from people who want to support nonprofit journalism. The stories in FCIR produced in partnership with those organizations included an examination of how the NRA influences Florida’s gun regulators, Gov. Scott’s financial conflicts of interests, and how a Congressman from Florida secured a seven-figure yacht loan from a company that was lobbying him on the 2017 tax bill.

Thank you again to Trevor and the entire staff at FCIR for all that you’re doing to keep investigative journalism alive in Florida.

 

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