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How Think Tanks Are Reshaping Journalism

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Unread 09.15.11, 06:45 PM
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How Think Tanks Are Reshaping Journalism

On 09.15.11 12:30 PM posted by Rob Bluey

Doublethink, the official magazine of America’s Future Foundation, carries my report on the role of nonprofit journalism outfits, specifically those based at think tanks. It’s a concept we’ve embraced at Heritage’s Center for Media and Public Policy, working with our policy experts to report on stories that are often ignored by other media outlets.

My piece focuses on several shining examples of think-tank journalism, beginning with the solid work of the MacIver Institute and Wisconsin Reporter in the Badger State:
Bill Osmulski stepped outside his office into a boisterous crowd of protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, earlier this year and spotted a group of doctors offering to write sick notes exempting from work “mentally anguished and distressed” teachers at a pro-union rally. His discovery led to a news-breaking video that put the MacIver Institute on the map for its reporting on the Wisconsin budget battle.

Osmulski is no Richard Dean Anderson (star of the 1980s TV series “MacGyver”) but he is just as resourceful. The former local TV reporter has a track record of breaking news. After years of working in traditional media, now he’s doing it for a free-market think tank.

Think tanks like MacIver are best known for developing policy ideas and producing research. They’re certainly not your conventional news outlet. But for Osmulski, MacIver offers the freedom to pursue stories that TV stations in Eau Claire or Madison didn’t want him to report. His investigative piece on the fake doctors’ notes made national news, arguably having a bigger impact in discrediting the protest than what would have been seen on local TV.

On a related note, the America’s Future Foundation marks its 15th anniversary tonight at the Arts Club of Washington. It has reason to celebrate. The organization is now under the leadership of executive director Roger Custer, a fellow graduate of Ithaca College and former conference director for the Young America’s Foundation.

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