The Watchdog Institute will be housed in the School of Journalism & Media Studies.
The independent, non-profit organization hopes to be a model for public service journalism.
San Diego State University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies is home to the new Watchdog Institute. The Watchdog Institute, an independent, non-profit organization, joins a handful of similar organizations across the country that seek to ensure the future of investigative journalism.
Led by veteran investigative journalist Lorie Hearn, the institute is located on campus within the School of Journalism & Media Studies. Hearn most recently served as senior editor for metro and watchdog journalism at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Hearn serves as executive director of the institute.
“We are thrilled to be at the forefront of this new journalism ecosystem,” said Diane L. Borden, director of SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies. “We see broad and exciting possibilities in collaborating with the Watchdog Institute.”
A model for public service journalism
The mission of the institute is two-fold:
- To provide data-driven investigative journalism to residents of San Diego and Imperial counties,
- And to help develop new investigative journalists through SDSU
“We hope the Watchdog Institute will be a model for public service journalism that is collaborative, not competitive,” Hearn said. “We look forward to working with SDSU students and mentoring the investigative journalists of the future.”
The in-kind agreement between the Watchdog Institute and SDSU provides office space for the institute in exchange for offering internships to journalism students and advising in the development and support of a new master’s degree in investigative journalism within the school. In the future, Hearn and her staff may also serve as guest lecturers in undergraduate journalism classes.
Added value for students
Joyce Gattas, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, which houses the School of Journalism & Media Studies, said she believes the institute is value added for students.
“Having working journalists amongst the students will provide a real-world context to their studies,” Gattas said.
In addition to Hearn, the Watchdog Institute has three investigative journalists on staff. Their first story ran over the weekend in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The San Diego Union-Tribune currently is the lead partner in providing funding for the institute. Hearn anticipates that additional funding will come from grants from local and national foundations and from other local media partners.
About SDSU's School of Journalism & Media Studies
SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies offers bachelor’s degrees in advertising, journalism, media studies and public relations; and a master’s degree in mass communication and media studies. In May 2009, the school became one of only 114 programs across the country to have received specialized accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.