Independence Institute Seeks Investigative Reporter

When accountants at daily newspapers across the country look to cut costs, their attention is often drawn to investigative units, which are important for reasons of overall quality and prestige but tend to require large investments that don't pay off in terms of the steady copy flow that's become increasingly important in these lean times. Nevertheless, at least one major organization is advertising for a journalist with this specialty, and it's an unlikely one: the Independence Institute, an area think-tank fronted by flamboyant media figure Jon Caldara (pictured).

Here's the first section of the appropriate listing on, a popular industry website:

The Independence Institute is seeking a top-notch investigative reporter for long- and short-term projects that expose waste, fraud, incompetence and corruption in state and local government. We’re looking with someone who has a track record of developing sources, breaking news and who knows the ins and outs of getting their hands on public records. Knowing Colorado’s public records laws, as well as FOIA, is a plus.

Your work will be distributed via our website, as well as through papers published by our organization that have wide circulation throughout Colorado and at the state Capitol. The ideal candidate will have at least five years news reporting experience, understand computer-assisted reporting, and have the savvy to talk about their findings on television and radio.

These passages should appeal to a wide array of journos, including folks who've either been laid off or have accepted buyouts rather than face an increasingly uncertain future. Problem is, the subsequent description of the Independence Institute as "a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that fights for the rights of voters and taxpayers" is notably coy. Granted, the sentence contains enough code words to suggest to most possible applicants that the outfit tilts notably to the right. Still, job-seekers of the more liberal persuasion who don't do their homework may find themselves bidding for a gig they'll find ideologically unsuitable.

Look at the ad, then, as the first test of an applicant's investigative skills -- his or her ability to figure out just how nonpartisan the Independence Institute actually is. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts