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Nieman Watchdog

The Nieman Watchdog Project was launched in 1996, animated by a singular goal: to examine and invigorate journalism in its fundamental role of serving the public interest. The Watchdog Project—funded by 1950 Nieman Fellow Murrey Marder, a former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post—has been an important and enduring feature of the Nieman Foundation. It has evolved over time to address emerging issues in accountability journalism.

In the early years of the Project, the Nieman Foundation conducted conferences, with leading journalists, academics, and political figures as speakers and panelists in Boston and Washington, D.C.

From 2004-2012, under the direction of editor Barry Sussman, a website devoted exclusively to watchdog journalism—niemanwatchdog.org—explored the ways in which journalists do or do not hold powerful individuals and institutions accountable for their actions. The site was created to encourage better reporting on public policy issues, expose under-reported issues and connect journalists to experts who could serve as guides and sources. Morton Mintz, NF ’64, served as a senior adviser from the outset and the site’s many contributors included policy experts, academics, journalists and think-tank analysts. The site remains online as a searchable archive.

Currently, articles about watchdog reporting written by Dan Froomkin and other leading journalists appear in Nieman Reports, a print and online publication that serves an influential international audience of journalists and has reported on the rights and responsibilities of news organizations for the past 65 years.

Moving forward, the Watchdog Project will also support two other ventures to enhance the Nieman Foundation’s longstanding commitment to accountability journalism:

Beginning with the Nieman class of 2014, the Nieman Foundation will invite watchdog journalists to study for a year at Harvard through the Murrey Marder Nieman Fellowship. Successful applicants will join other Nieman Fellows in a year of intense examination of journalistic priorities as well as independent pursuits.

In addition, harnessing the intellectual and creative resources of journalists and Harvard, the Nieman Foundation will organize a series of seminars and other special events to examine the successes and failures that characterize the current state of watchdog journalism in Washington and beyond.