there's four to five dozen entries of some really sophisticated, amazing reporting across a whole range of different topics from abuses by State agencies taking care of the elderly to" one of the pieces that won a few years ago was out of Florida, where the Miami Herald had taken databases for real estate.. licensed real estate" I'm sorry they were mortgage brokers in Florida, they took that database and then they took the State criminal database, and they ran the two together and they found out thousands of people selling mortgages, peddling mortgages in Florida were actually ex-cons. [laughing] Is that amazing? Yeah, I mean that's the kind of story you would never have, you wouldn't have even heard about a few years ago, because of part of the technology makes it possible. Very ambitious!
Rob Kall: Whoa! Could you let me ask you this, that you are the judge on one contest, the Investigative Reporters and Editorial" Editors journalism contest?
James Steele: And we've judged others.
Rob Kall: What is that? And, others? Okay. So what is some of the criteria that you look for, in identifying excellence and winners?
James Steele: Clarity. The way the story is put forth.
Donald Barlett: [interjecting] And obstacles that had to be overcome in getting it.
James Steele: And was the energy worth being expended for this topic? And I'll tell, you some of these things are really hard to judge because boy, the really good stuff is, it's a tough issue because a lot of good stuff is being done. Most of it is at the local and what we call the regional. There's not as much at the national level that we would like to see. But in a lot of regional things it's fine. I mean the Philadelphia Enquirer's series last year on violence in schools was an exceptional piece of work, and it was a combination of interviews, human stories backed up by raw data about what was really going on. So, there's a lot of good work going on now. And a lot of committed people in journalism. Journalism's has always been a calling, that's never changed, and that never will change. I don't think anybody knows just all the ways it's going to be a showcased in the future.
Rob Kall: What do you mean, it's a "calling'?
James Steele: Well, it's hard work, and it's always long hours"
Donald Barlett: Let me put it this way"
James Steele: "the actual rewards, and now you have a situation where salaries for so many people have been rolled back from what they were just a few years ago. So the ones in journalism now are a testament in a way, that those of us maybe twenty years ago weren't. We weren't having our salaries rolled back. Maybe they weren't increasing at the rate we wanted, but it's a totally different ballgame out there right now.
Rob Kall: I think I totally agree with you. I mean for a lot of people, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, who are blogging who are not getting paid anything. Now"
James Steele: Exactly.
Rob Kall: "part of the reason I'm asking you on this, is I publish OpEdNews.com. If you Google "liberal news', then search for that, it comes up first. And we just past our hundred and fifty thousand [150,000 ] items published mark.
James Steele: Excellent!
Rob Kall: And so I have a thousand"