By Benita M. Dodd
It’s been a rough year for news organizations. Even before COVID-19 struck, newspaper circulation, readership and pages were shrinking, outmaneuvered by shrinking ad revenue and a 24-hour news cycle: online news, television news, radio talk-show programs, and much rumor and innuendo circulating on social media.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has only twisted the knife. Some local weekly newspapers – the bread-and-butter of public policy research organizations like the Georgia Public Policy Foundation – have surrendered and shut their doors. Others retreated to online-only versions while many focused on hyper-local news, using local columnists on the few remaining opinion pages. Yet others became hyper-political, with bias shutting out opposition voices.
While the Foundation has used social media and the power of the internet to expand its footprint and share its statewide policy proposals beyond the Gold Dome, the unfortunate result is communities across the state are deprived of news articles that highlight solutions from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and similar organizations.
It’s not true that “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” What Georgians don’t know does indeed affect them – in their communities, in their schools, in their homes and in their pocketbooks.
In 2021, the Foundation celebrates 30 years since it was established to champion policy over politics in Georgia. To mark this anniversary, the organization is renewing its push across Georgia, taking action to bridge the information gap across the state. A series of investigative news articles will shine a light on Georgia’s challenges, highlighting the lack of transparency, lack of data and lack of government restraint. At least one in-depth news article a month will focus on the issues that affect Georgians’ lives.
The goal is to share the commonsense policies that reduce government overreach and promote opportunities for individual initiative, entrepreneurship and private-sector solutions. The articles will share the stories of Georgians encumbered by extraordinary, outdated or unnecessary regulations. The exposés will come from writers the Foundation has hand-picked to investigate the issues buried in obscure websites, bureaucracy and opacity.
- Education: Where have Georgia’s students gone? What is the truancy rate? Which options are parents choosing in education? What do parents want? What are the hurdles, and why? What are the consequences of delaying in-person classes?
- Housing affordability: What examples of housing affordability work without burdening taxpayers, and what is hindering solutions in Georgia? What’s raising the cost of housing in Georgia?
- Healthcare: What are the healthcare handicaps that increase costs and reduce access? How are hospitals and medical professionals innovating? What provides quality, affordable care?
- Taxes: What would happen if Georgia lowered the tax rate to compete with neighbors? What are the subsidies Georgia could eliminate to broaden the tax base and improve the economy?
Opportunity: Which occupational licenses are unnecessary? Who benefits from the heavy-handedness?
Georgians deserve to know, especially as government gets set to grow out of Washington, that solutions need not come from more government, more taxes and more regulation.
With many newspapers strapped for funds and staff ,the Foundation hopes this investigative journalism initiative will provide facts and articles that newspapers and other media across the state will publish for their own readers – or use as a launching point for their own investigations.
For decades, the Foundation has been a trusted, independent resource for voters and elected officials. Now that opinion pages are shrinking, there’s a new place for actionable solutions for the real-life problems of everyday Georgians: the news pages.
Do you have an issue you would like the Foundation’s investigative journalists to cover? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benita M. Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Established in 1991, the Foundation is a trusted, independent resource for voters and elected officials. The Foundation provides actionable solutions to real-life problems by bringing people together. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.
© Georgia Public Policy Foundation (December 18, 2020). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and her affiliations are cited.