Welcome to the Ohio Capital Journal, reporting for the people

December 3, 2019 10:00 am

Ohio State Capitol building; Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images

We live in a world of uncertainty. Some of that uncertainty stems from the human condition, the nature of existence and the nature of civilization. Some of it is intentionally manufactured by those acting in bad faith to further personal and professional ambitions, or to cover up corruption and wrongdoing.

The role and responsibility of journalists is to remain steadfast in pursuit of truth — uncovering facts, exposing lies and hypocrisy, and being the eyes and ears of the people in the halls of power, holding our elected representatives and public officials accountable. It is also our role as journalists to lift up the voices of the people outside of power, to share their stories and highlight the issues and struggles they face.

Journalists work to reduce uncertainty by presenting facts, providing context and giving people the information they need to make informed decisions on how they want to see our government run. This work is critical to the health and well-being of the American Republic.

John Adams famously noted that ours is “a government of laws, and not of men.” As a student of history, he was well aware that when individuals are allowed to reign above the rule of law, once-great civilizations have often met their downfall.

James Madison said that “knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

The Ohio Capital Journal’s mission is to report for the people so that we may arm ourselves with the power of knowledge.

The Capital Journal is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to connecting Ohioans to our state government and its impact on our lives. We’ll combine our daily coverage with investigative journalism that delves into the consequences of laws and policy. We’ll also provide insightful political commentary.

We are free to readers and free of advertising: no surveys, no pop-ups, no paywalls. Our news stories and commentary are also free to republish with proper attribution. We are dedicated to the highest ethical standards of journalism and to highlighting good journalism from other publications big and small around our state.

In this era of chaos and dysfunction, the duty of journalists to clearly convey critical, factual information has rarely been so paramount, and the performance of media rarely so suspected.

We therefore make the pledge that our first duty as journalists is always to the people of Ohio. We will be tough, and we will be fair. The Ohio Capital Journal is here to report for the people. 

We will have three reporters and several freelancers not only covering the Ohio Statehouse and Ohio government, but also getting out into our communities, talking to Ohioans, learning their struggles and sharing their stories. 

We will also be running commentary, which will be clearly marked as such. This commentary will be written by our editor alongside a wide variety of guests and columnists. 

We intend to share a healthy spectrum of progressive perspectives on the news and issues of the day. Our commentary will openly, unabashedly push toward progress, and it will be rooted in principles and values such as freedom, honesty, fairness, equality and human dignity.

The late columnist Molly Ivins wrote, “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

Our commentary/editorial posture is to view our collective history that way, so we will not be punching down at anyone struggling to gain these liberties, to gain their freedom, to gain their equality, or to gain dignity and quality of life for themselves, their communities and their families. We will be lifting them up.

Mark Twain praised the “deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence.” He said that, “whoso is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and all kindred swindles, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties.”

The Ohio Capital Journal intends to be that friend.

In the original hall of the U.S. House of Representatives, overlooking the chamber, sat a marble sculpture of Clio, the muse of history, recording the proceedings, as it were, from a winged chariot representing, with a clock, the passage of time. In the present hall, overlooking the chamber, are television cameras. 

Following the metaphor: Whether or which any of our elected officials are performing their duties for the people’s good under the watchful eye of history, or for their own political self-interest in front of television cameras, we’ll leave you to decide in the sanctity of the voting booth.

Our obligation as journalists at the Ohio Capital Journal remains the same, and that’s to provide facts, context and insight, and to produce that famous “first rough draft of history.” 

We will do so with honesty, integrity, tenacity, humility, fairness and a solemn, unending devotion to the people of Ohio. This is our home.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

David DeWitt
David DeWitt

OCJ Editor-in-Chief and Columnist David DeWitt has been covering government, politics, and policy in Ohio since 2007, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt