For the past five months, the staff of the Pew Center on the States has been working to make this site a useful news and research tool for journalists, policy makers and just plain citizens who wish to follow state government developments. We think you'll find a wealth of useful infomration here, but Stateline.org is unfinished business. The site will be updated Monday through Friday, and we welcome your suggestions for improvement.
The show of civility toward often-downtrodden bureaucrats was the doing of Robert Taft, who has just been installed as Ohio's governor. The imaginative idea for attracting good teachers was the brainchild of Washington state representative Mike Wensman. It is stories like these that will be the warp and woof of stateline.org.
We'll report on the bad as well as the good. Our assignment from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the foundation that funds us, is simply this: to make this webside a useful news and research tool for journalists, policymakers and just plain citizens who wish to follow innovative developments in state government. We have no ideological axe to grind, or any other bias.
On our website, you will find stories produced by our staff and contract writers in the state capitals. You will also find a daily roundup of stories about state government from scores of newspapers and other media outlets, with links to the websites from whence the material came.
These features will be updated Monday through Friday.
You will also find background information and issue-specific statistics on several issues at the forefront of the political agenda in many states, issues like education, healthcare, welfare reform, utility deregulation and tax and budget policy. And you'll find a glossary of terms associated with these issues, terms that are often strange and confusing to non-experts.
If you're a journalist, you'll find a number of special features that we hope will help you do your important work of reporting what's going on in the halls of government to the general public. You'll find contact information for expert sources, tips on where to take a camera if you're shooting a TV story and other such information.
We think there's a wealth of useful material on our website. But it is a work in progress, and we will constantly seek to improve it. So if you have questions, comments, advice or criticism, please let us know. We welcome your input.
Our stateline.org team is composed of seasoned journalists. Blair Walker, a senior writer, is a former USA Today business reporter and the author of three books. Clare Nolan, the other senior writer, is a former network television producer. Sunny Kaplan came to us from the Gannett Newspaper chain. Tiffany Danitz wrote about state issues for Insight Magazine. And Joe Giordono was present at the creation of the Pew Center on the States.
Ed Fouhy, an ex- network news executive who previously founded the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, leads the Center. His deputy and stateline.org's managing editor is Gene Gibbons, formerly senior White House correspondent for Reuters. Joanne Bowlby, who came to stateline.org after directing operations of a similar website focused on foreign policy, handles technical issues and site layout. Our administrator is Tiffany Shackelford, formerly a staff member at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
As you familiarize yourself with the site, make mental notes about what you like and what you don't. Let us know. We value your advice, and will work unceasingly to make stateline.org your source of timely, trustworthy news and information of the states.