The nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica looks into all kinds of important issues. Their efforts are vital, especially at a time when many newspapers and television stations are cutting back on expensive investigative work.
Its reporters and editors come from, among other places, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. They are serious people doing serious work. And they do it very well. Last year, ProPublica won a Pulitzer for an investigation into euthanasia at a hospital in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. It won another this year for a series about the ways the "Wall Street money machine" worsened the economic crisis.
This fall, ProPublica's reporters started an investigation into redistricting the process by which the government decides where voting district lines are drawn. There are a lot of problems with this process. Partisan politics heavily influence the way voting district lines are drawn, and the resulting gerrymandered districts do more to help politicians and special interests than to serve the people who actually live in them.
To start to shed light on this, ProPublica gives us an enterprise story explaining the ways special interests can benefit from influencing the redistricting process. They offer up another piece that explains the jargon of redistricting.
Then, there's this. An original music video. Made by journalists. About government redistricting. Watch it after the jump.
CJR called the video "something like YoGabbaGabba! meets DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince meets, maybe, Eminem— with guitar solo by Slash." Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab says it is "accountability journalism, MTV-style." Scott Klien, ProPublica's editor of news applications, told the Nieman Lab it was meant to be "a civics lesson gone wrong."
This isn't the first time ProPublica has used music videos to tell the news. Earlier this year, a series on fracking was accompanied by this video that neatly explains the process and the controversy surrounding the process in two minutes and 33 seconds (as an added bonus, you'll enjoy their attempt to rhyme the word "formaldehyde").
Read the stories (don't be intimidated by the apparent length - they include a lot of reader comments at the bottom that you need not read if you aren't interested). Watch the videos. Tell me what you think. Valuable? Waste of time? Cheesy? Effective storytelling tool? What about the packages as a whole? What purposes do the videos serve? Should more journalists do this?
If you can sing your comments during class, I'll be especially impressed (not impressed enough to give bonus points, but impressed nonetheless). Elaborate performances are welcome.