Dear Fellow Floridians,

After 40 years of writing for the Miami Herald, I can confidently describe Florida as a place where you could turn loose a hundred investigative reporters — and they’d never run out of material.

Editor’s Note

All donations made to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting through December 31 will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar match from NewsMatch. That means a $10 donation today will be worth $20 to FCIR. Can we count on your support?

Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

A native Floridian, Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald and the author of more than two dozen books, including Lucky You, Sick Puppy and, most recently, Razor Girl.

Unfortunately, we live in an era of shrinking newspapers and growing government corruption. From the Panhandle to the Keys, lobbyists and favored interests have rarely held more sway over politicians, and faced less scrutiny of their actions.

Meanwhile our Legislature and governor continue their quest to restrict access to important official records that for decades have been readily available — not just to the media, but to everybody.

These are worrisome times, and the press is being slammed by all sides. Democracy thrives only when the public is well-informed, but that can’t happen without solid, fearless journalism.

Florida’s newspapers, like those all over the country, are cutting costs by reducing the number of editors and reporters. This is bad for regular folks who need to know all the news — but it’s good for dishonest officeholders. Strange things tend to unfold at zoning-board meetings when no reporters are in the room.

And unless the publishing business suddenly rebounds, the pared-down staffs of most newspapers will be spread too thinly to launch the lengthy, in-depth investigations required to expose government wrongdoing.

But there is another way to make sure that corrupt and compromised officials don’t get a free pass in the Sunshine State:

Support the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, which funds major journalism projects in the state.

Like the national ProPublica organization, FCIR is an independent nonprofit. It exists purely as a watchdog for the public interest. The stories produced by its reporters dig into issues that impact millions of Floridians.

This is tough, important work, and there’s never been a time when we needed it more. Please donate whatever you can to FCIR.


Carl Hiaasen