Traditional methods of journalism are not as traditional as they once were, and that has created gaps that the staff at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation intend to help fill.
And that’s where I come in as the Foundation’s new and full-time investigative journalist.
What is journalism? That question might perplex anyone who peruses more traditional sources, such as radio, print, or television. Has journalism morphed into something that it wasn’t as recent as 30 years ago? That’s debatable.
In worst case examples, opinion writers mislabel and/or disguise what they write as actual news. Reporters use anonymous sources to transmit false and misleading narratives, thus denying members of the public the chance to debate amongst themselves whether these sources are reliable or have ulterior motives.
Reporters who write for distinguished and well-known newspapers tell me journalism is their way to serve as a voice for the voiceless. Yet, those well-intentioned reporters churn out stories that push to expand the government’s role in our everyday lives — without thinking through the costs to taxpayers or the long-term consequences to society.
Journalism can and still often does look out for the greater good. But I differ from many other reporters in terms of my personal philosophy.
A good reporter independently verifies anything that an anonymous source tells him before he publishes or broadcasts it. A good reporter sticks to ideas and avoids catering to those who hurl personal insults. A good reporter serves as a watchdog on — and not a lapdog for — officials at all levels of the local, state, and federal governments. A good reporter checks on elected and unelected people in government to make certain they dispense the taxpayers’ money wisely and that they also conduct themselves ethically and transparently.
Also going by my personal creed, governments that work best are governments that limit themselves, respect private property, promote initiative, promote economic freedom, and promote personal responsibility. And journalists do their best work when they want honest and hard-working people to get the greatest returns from all their life’s efforts.
I have nearly 20 years of professional journalism experience. In South Florida, I trailed the path of a serial killer and was on-the-scene to document the immediate aftermath of three deadly hurricanes. In Texas I wrote about agriculture. In my home state of Louisiana, I profiled business leaders, the latest K-12 education news, and wrote several folksy feature stories that I hoped made people laugh and/or tugged at their heartstrings.
But it wasn’t until I relocated to Tennessee in 2010 that I discovered journalism was so much more than that. Not only was it my job to document local history, but it was also my job to serve as a storyteller and tell you how the story I’m writing impacts your life.
Also in Tennessee, I realized that journalists don’t always have enough time or resources to inform you of what’s happening in your community. And sometimes the most important news is the news that gets overlooked. By reading government audits and by asking questions that other reporters seldom seem interested in asking, I unearthed a staggering number of examples of government waste, fraud, and abuse.
In 2015, for example, the governor of Tennessee spent $30,000 to create a new state logo that most people could create with Microsoft Paint in fewer than five minutes.
In 2010, a group of county commissioners and other business leaders promised federal officials that a new port in an impoverished area along the Mississippi River would create thousands of new jobs and deliver prosperity to an economically-distressed region — but only if the local, state, and federal governments contributed $50 million in taxpayer money. When I checked up on that port 10 years later, it had created not so much as one single job.
Politicians are generally extroverted, outgoing people who are never at a loss for words — but too many are speechless when reporters ask them hard questions. And too few reporters ask the hard questions.
Tax reforms, housing reforms, education and school choice, free market health care reforms, occupational licensing, and civil asset forfeiture are among only a few of the topics I want to write about as I cover Georgia. My guiding principles will inform the stories I seek out. Once I turn my reporter’s eye to them you can trust me to give you the news straight. That’s what’s missing from too much of today’s journalism. I’ll do my part to bring it back.
To do all of this, I need to invest in developing relationships with as many Georgians as I possibly can. Some of a reporter’s best stories come from tipsters.
Do you have a story tip for me? Email me at
I look forward to hearing from you.