We give you, Blackbox

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It is with great pleasure that I announce on behalf of the entire Appen Media Group team the launch of our newest project, dubbed Blackbox (or BL4CKB0X as you will often see it designated).

Blackbox is the new investigative journalism arm of our multimedia company. For over 30 years Appen Media Group, while thorough and detailed in its reporting of current news, has never designated resources and manpower to what consumers of news would describe as investigative journalism. And, to be fair, rarely do news organizations of our size and scope do such a thing. This role is typically played by larger daily media companies like Cox Media Group's Atlanta Journal Constitution, or the Boston Globe, for which this company drew inspiration from for the Blackbox model.

For those of you who saw the movie “Spotlight,” you will understand what I am talking about.

The Boston Globe has a division of its newsroom designated to deep background investigations, usually centered around corruption, crime or abuse of power. They are meticulous with their research, sift through hundreds of tips from readers for legitimate leads, and work autonomously from the rest of the news staff. They are dubbed Spotlight.

For us, there will be some parallels and some differences with their structure.

First, the similarities. The Blackbox team is a small group of journalists allotted as much time and effort required to research, verify and report on major news stories. We will depend on tips from our readers, a multitude of recorded and off-the-record sources, and will only spend time on stories that deserve the depth of attention we will give it.

The Blackbox team will build a thesis based on a hunch or tip. Then, we will gather facts to support our thesis and continued work on the project. We will continue to work on some, and then that's when we're off to the races.

The differences? While the Boston Globe is able to designate resources to a separate dedicated team of journalists for Spotlight, we will be running Blackbox with the team we already have on staff. This means they will be contributing to Blackbox in addition to the beats they already cover.

Another key difference is that while we will dive into statewide and national issues, our focus is still and always will be local. So, while the exposure to our work may be small, the impact will be just as strong, if not more so.

Additionally, I would like to take the time to announce we are beefing up on resources on our news team. In addition to industry vets Hatcher Hurd, Pat Fox, and rising star Kathleen Sturgeon, we are thrilled to announce the hiring of Joe Parker as a full-time reporter covering the Milton beat and the promotion of Julia Grochowski to reporter covering the Roswell beat. Both will contribute to Blackbox projects.

For now, I recommend you follow any Blackbox updates in your local Herald newspaper and via the team twitter handle @BLACKBOXdocs. The team is now working on multiple projects, and we will keep you posted on appropriate updates or when projects are ready.

Also, send us tips! We have a few leads we are looking into, but would love to hear from our readers on anything they would like for us to investigate. To send a tip to the Blackbox team, simply email it to blackbox@appenmediagroup.com or submit it via the website, blackboxdocs.com/contact. You can do this anonymously or by giving your name and contact info. Your name and contact info will solely be used to follow up for questions, and will never be written anywhere in our reporting without your expressed consent.


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