Now acting as a fund, The American Independent Institute will deploy its resources by guiding a number of targeted, larger-scope projects to fruition each year and working with well-established news organizations, websites and magazines to act as the main publishers of the stories. The organization expects most of its projects to result in print and website published stories, but is also considering grant requests for books, as well as projects in other media forms, including film.
"The American Independent has a proud history of journalism that spurred progressive change," said Brock, the President of the Institute. "In our role as a funder of deep-dig reporting projects, our mission - to foster strong journalism with lasting impact - hasn't changed. With the ongoing disintegration of the U.S. newspaper business, the need for alternative sources of information and independent reporting has never been greater. We will continue to meet the challenges of democracy in a new way."
The organization has made its first group of grants, including:
• Alexander Zaitchik, a free-lance journalist and author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, for an investigation of the increasingly powerful Gun Owners of America and its radical leader Larry Pratt, slated for publication in early July by RollingStone.com;
• An inside look at the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and how its Republican members have undermined scientific inquiry, by Brad Johnson, a blogger at Climate Progress and co-author of Technomanifestos, a history of the information revolution, to be published this month as a three-part series by The Huffington Post;
• Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of Washington Monthly, is examining President Bill Clinton's successful 1996 battle to increase the minimum wage and the lessons it holds for today as part of a planned Washington Monthly series on Clinton's legacy;
• A piece by Glastris and a former editor with the Washington Monthly, Haley Sweetland Edwards, on how conservatives have systematically destroyed objective expertise within Congress over the last 30 years that is featured as the cover story in the June issue of Washington Monthly;
• A piece to appear in Harper's Magazine by Chris Ketcham on how the right-wing and their corporate allies, including Koch Industries, are using their power to privatize public lands to aid the interests of extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining at the expense of the environment;
• A team with the Environmental Working Group, led by Time and Newsweek magazine veteran Elaine Shannon, is investigating the massive spending campaign being undertaken by Koch Industries and other chemical corporations that aim to cripple federal controls on toxic chemicals used in commerce and consumer products;
• In a June 12 piece published on The Nation's website, Eli Clifton reports on how Rush Limbaugh's financial support of the conservative Independent Women's Forum has influenced that group's defense of Limbaugh's repeated misogynistic outbursts; and
• A grant to a team of filmmakers to support final production of an investigative documentary about the adverse impacts of the right-wing Koch brothers' business practices.
The Zaitchik story on Larry Pratt and the Gun Owners of America will be featured on a panel discussion at the Open Society Foundations in New York in July. The panel will be co-sponsored by RollingStone.com, and invited guests include Mark Glaze, the former executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety and Michael Waldman, the President of the Brennan Center for Justice and author of the new book, The Second Amendment: A Biography.
The American Independent Institute's director is Sam Skolnik, an editor and reporter who has worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Las Vegas Sun, and The National Law Journal. Skolnik is also the author of High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction.