Comment, 28 May 2015
For the last two years a small group of us have been trying to figure out the future of investigative journalism. With a lot of help and hopefully a little inspiration, we have come up with The Ferret.
It's a new platform for fearless reporting beholden to no-one except its writers and readers. It will be a co-operative, it will be accountable, and it will be transparent. It will depend on crowdfunding and subscriptions not adverts - and it is promising to "nose up the trousers of power".
Yesterday we went public and invited people to say which of three proposed investigations - asylum seekers, NHS cuts and fracking - we should pursue first. If you want to take part, please go here. But, be warned, we will be asking for your money next.
We think investigative journalism is suffering. "The advertising revenues that have traditionally funded journalists to uncover scandals are being swept away in the whirlwind of the electronic information revolution – and nobody is quite sure what to do about it," says The Ferret's founding statement.
"We believe that something has to be done. In a democracy like ours few things are more important than a free, fair and independent media holding the powerful to account by discovering their secrets. Without serious, fact-based journalism in pursuit of the public interest and beholden to no-one, Scotland would be a smaller place."
The Ferret is not the only solution to the problem, but it could be a start. Our core team - Billy Briggs, Peter Geoghegan, Rachel Hamada, Alastair Tibbitt and me - all feel strongly that investigative journalism must not be allowed to wither and die in the hands of corporations. It is too important for that. Please join us.