Reports Back from the First Spot.Us Reporter

In my recent switch to WordPress (officially complete) I am late to write about my new-found friend Alexis Madrigal‘s post in the Nieman Reports Journal on his experience with Spot.Us.

In fact, Alexis was the very first Spot.Us reporter. He was our monkey shot into space. I’m happy to say he has come back down from orbit and continues to do interesting and innovative reporting projects at Wired (my old stomping ground).

I particularly like his wit about how our friendship began and his response to the now tired (but still always asked) question about Spot.Us and the influence of money.

It seems to be a time-honored journalistic tradition to launch partnerships over beer. So whatever else David Cohn and I might have gone on to do differently, know that some things are still sacred among reporters.


People—OK, only other journalists—often ask me, “Did you think about who was funding your story?” Sure, I did. I wanted to thank them by providing the most honest reporting I could. Even if I’d wanted to write what the funders wanted, I don’t think I could have. It would have taken a lot of research just to figure out their angle on biofuels. As I told a Dutch weekly when they interviewed me about it, “There was no John ‘I Love Ethanol’ Smith on the [funders] list.” And besides, this was my story that they’d agreed to fund, and I was the one going to report it. None of my funders contacted me or in any way suggested that I push the story in a given direction.

And now that the transition to wordpress is complete – expect blogging to resume at a new and inspired pace (for a few more days and then I’ll get bored and go back to Twitter again).

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