October 23, 2013–This special issue of the WatchDog focuses on the transparency of safety information related to dams, levees, impoundments, and related water-control structures. For environmental journalists, these subjects offer a goldmine of great story possibilities. These are stories that have not been covered much in the past decade, and stories that fit well at the local, state, or regional level.
October 23, 2013–Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens are at risk from potential dam disasters, yet state and federal agencies hold to a policy that amounts to "out of sight, out of mind." The biggest danger, apparently, is that the public might find out about the dangers, and criticize insufficient dam safety measures, inconvenience private dam owners, depress real estate values, or demand public spending that is politically painful for those in office.
October 23, 2013–A key set of tools for reporters probing dam issues at any level, local to national, are the available databases on various kinds of dams, levees, and impoundments. The WatchDog in this issue presents a special "Reporters' Toolbox" on these data sets. We hope at least to help reporters find and access them.
September 25, 2013–On Saturday, October 5: At 9:00 a.m. SEJ FOI Task Force Chair Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun will moderate a session on overcoming obstacles put up by agency press offices to reporters who want to interview government officials. At 10:45 a.m. WatchDog Editor Joe Davis will present a hands-on session with tips for sleuthing dam and levee stories using federal databases like the National Inventory of Dams and the National Levee Database.
August 28, 2013–See the list of US nuclear facilities that could be endangered by dam failure, thanks to a document that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not want to release, made public by the Huffington Post. Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity filed suit August 15, 2013, under the FOIA to force the NRC to disclose more of what it knows.
August 14, 2013–One reason proof of harm is hard to find is that drillers pay people to keep quiet. Now the unsealing of a once-confidential settlement in Pennsylvania gives a clear view of how the silencing works. The 17-page, two-year-old settlement agreement includes a $750,000 payment to a family critical of fracking, saying they became sick, as well as a gag order that applies to their 7- and 10-year-old children for the rest of their lives.
July 31, 2013–Journalists who worried about a cover-up during the April 2010 blowout of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico got some vindication this month when Halliburton admitted to destroying evidence. The company agreed to pay $200,000 in fines and donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
July 15, 2013–Now available to non-members and non-subscribers. In this issue: ESA at 40 — 40 things journalists should know; tangled tale of the endangered wolf; SEJ resources for busy enviro journalists; how one freelancer supports a travel addiction; five book reviews; IJNR institute inspires journalists; watershed tipsheet; and SEJ's 2012 individuals donor list.