In February 1918, a Haskell County, Kan., paper, the Santa Fe Monitor, reported almost a dozen people were “quite sick” with pneumonia. At the time, the stories may not have seemed significant. Many people get sick in the winter.
Decades later, however, the stories became hugely important. The Monitor’s report helped disease detectives piece together the trail of the world’s greatest influenza pandemic and its epicenter, according to “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History” by author John Barry. The 1918 flu, which ultimately killed about 50 million people globally, likely began in Haskell County, where scientists think the deadly flu virus jumped between animals and humans and then to troops at a nearby army base readying to fight World War I.
Why this matters today was highlighted in a Stat story this week by Helen Branswell, “When Towns Lose Their Newspapers, Disease Detectives are Left Flying Blind.” Continue reading
The Huffington Post is launching a fund that will support investigative reporting. The initial budget of $1.75 million is expected to pay for 10 staff journalists who will coordinate stories with freelancers.
Arianna Huffington (Photo: JD Lasica, socialmedia.biz (CC))
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said concern over the layoffs at newspapers hurting investigative journalism prompted the move. She hopes to hire laid-off journalists for the project.
Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or Web site to use at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post, she said.
The first topic the journalists will be expected to delve into is the nation’s economy.
The Huffington Post skews liberal, but its founder promised that the work done by the investigative fund would be nonpartisan. The group would be discredited quickly if it puts out faulty information, said Nick Penniman, the fund’s executive director.
“We care about democracy, not Democrats,” he said.