Good journalism played a crucial role in 2020; here is what we plan to do in 2021.
WhoWhatWhy is getting a name for its unique approach to journalism in the public interest. We don’t sell advertising — or anything. All our content is free. So we don’t have to do all the things so many other news organizations do.
We don’t have to try to “entertain” you with those elements that drive so much of journalism: gossip, big names, controversies, dramas, shock value, things that comfort or distract. There’s a lot of that. But what there isn’t enough of is information that actually matters.
Often, timing is crucial. Things typically come to public attention when a crisis looms — which is when the media invests heavily in covering it. But that’s also when it may be too late to take effective remedial action.
At WhoWhatWhy, we’ve been early leaders in covering election integrity: how elections and voting actually work, whether they work correctly, and what needs to be done to fix things that don’t work very well.
In 2018, we were leaders in covering voter suppression during the midterm elections. This year, we took our reporting on election integrity to a new level. We published an e-book: a guide to electronic voting machines and the companies that make and service them.
This is a topic most people don’t pay much attention to until they learn that these machines could potentially be vulnerable to manipulation from inside or out — and why the future of the democratic process itself may depend on how well-informed and vigilant we are about this technology.
We also took on a new aspect of voter suppression: attempts to tamp down the campus vote. We published our Campus Voter Guide, the first-ever look at key university campuses to evaluate how easy it is for students to vote, which has been a potentially determinative factor in close races.
At a time when more and more news organizations that traditionally trained new journalists are closing their doors, and when the main path to a possible career is extremely expensive university journalism programs, WhoWhatWhy ramped up its Mentor-Apprentice program, in which our veteran journalists provide high-quality training to promising newcomers — absolutely free.
But we’re just getting started. No matter what your thoughts about the 2020 election, the future is cloudy — and things could be tough. That’s why we’re launching a new unit to cover the integrity of the federal government itself — the doings of the departments and agencies that shape policy affecting every person.
We’ve also launched an environmental unit, which we plan to keep growing in order to cover many of the most critical threats to human survival. And, while most new outlets have moved on from the minimal work they did around voting systems, we plan to continue and even increase our election integrity efforts. Because self-interested parties are always working in the dark to benefit themselves, and because fixing these essential levers of democracy must be done long before the next election — in other words, exactly when few pay attention.
We know that the WhoWhatWhy reader is a special kind of person, more aware, more curious, more evolved, and more appreciative of these kinds of concerns. We’re so glad you’re with us. And we look forward to the phenomenal input you will give us in the new year.