On April 19, we could read in the New York Times that Khaled Sheik Mohammed (self-described planner of September 11) was waterboarded 183 times in one month.
I think waterboarding is horrible torture, but that is not the point here. The point is that NYTimes reporters were not the ones who uncovered the exact number of times CIA used this torture method on the Al Quada-prisoner. A blogger, Marcy Wheeler (business consultant from Michigan), dug it up in a foot note from a Justice Departement memo from 2005. You can read more about the story here and here. She and a team of five others from the Firedoglaker’s blog have been liveblogging from the Libby trial (Lewis Libby was the chief of staff for Dick Cheney), supported by online donations from their readers. Now, they are trying to get more funding so that Wheeler can do her blogging full time. The goal is to raise $150,000, so far, readers have donated $15,160.
More about how Firedoglake came about:
Ms. Hamsher, 47, created Firedoglake on a shoestring — its major expense is a $200-a-month charge for Web hosting. Online donors are paying trial coverage costs, including the travel expenses of the bloggers and the $3,500 a month rent on the Washington apartment, dubbed Plame House after Valerie Plame, the maiden name of the C.I.A. operative whose exposure led to the criminal investigation and Mr. Libby’s indictment.
The bloggers, some of whom are taking vacation or have flexible work schedules, are all unpaid. Ms. Hamsher describes the blog as ”a collective watering hole” where contributors with diverse expertise ”scour every possible source for information and then pool their resources.”
If you still think bloggers are pyjamas clad morons, firing off opinions from their laptop in bed (ok, can be true still:-), this story will make you think again. As business models for media are falling apart around us, we might see more examples of talented and investigative bloggers like Wheelers, achieving funding in untraditional ways.
I heard about this inspiring blogger through Jay Rosen’s Twitter feed this morning (my new media habit – reading Twitter links on my iPhone in bed, before I get up:-), which gave me a good start on the day.