CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Sept. 8, 2004) — NiemanWatchdog.org is utilizing the Internet in an effort to make the presidential debates better. Starting this week, NiemanWatchdog.org is soliciting incisive, probing questions that President Bush and Senator Kerry should be asked at the upcoming presidential debates.
The NiemanWatchdog.org Web site is a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Its primary mission is to encourage watchdog reporting by drawing on authorities in various fields to suggest questions the press should ask.
For its presidential debate project, NiemanWatchdog.org is accepting submissions from experts and thoughtful citizens alike. The editors of the site also will be scouring blogs and other Web sites, looking for questions being posed there.
“This is no time for softballs,” said NiemanWatchdog.org Deputy Editor Dan Froomkin. “We believe that the collective wisdom of the Internet community can generate some superbly pointed questions that will force the candidates to provide the kinds of answers the public deserves.”
Several days before each presidential debate, NiemanWatchdog.org will select what its editors think are the best questions for each candidate, and will announce the winners on the Web site — as well as in a press release to major media organizations.
Internet users are encouraged to post their questions, or questions they’ve seen elsewhere on the Web, directly onto www.NiemanWatchdog.org. They can also e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with their names, hometown and affiliation if relevant.
The Nieman Foundation has since 1938 been the home of the Nieman Fellows, the oldest midcareer fellowship for journalists in the world. The fellowships are awarded to working journalists of accomplishment and promise for an academic year of study in any part of the university. The Foundation also publishes the quarterly magazine Nieman Reports and is the home of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism.