Vaughn Ververs

  About Public Eye
  Read Vaughn's Bio

About Public Eye

"Brand new" are popular words in American marketing, but in early September, will launch an adventure in journalism that really and truly is brand new. It is a Web log or blog called Public Eye and it will cover and write about CBS News primarily, but also about journalism issues that are in the news and in the blogosphere.

Nothing like this has been done before. It will be a work in progress, a good faith effort and, we hope, great reading and viewing.

Public Eye's most fundamental mission is to bring transparency to the editorial operations of CBS News -- transparency that is unprecedented for broadcast and online journalism. The journalists who make the important editorial decisions at CBS News and will be asked to explain and answer questions about those decisions. The independent journalists who write and edit Public Eye will take questions, criticisms and observations to CBS News, conduct their own reporting, and report all sides of the conversation. They will talk to the reporters, producers and executives who make the news.

So Public Eye is an opportunity for CBS News' audience to hold CBS News more publicly accountable. But importantly, it is an opportunity for CBS News to be more open and accessible about why and how it makes the decisions that affect what millions of people see, hear and read.

Public Eye will also try to explain and describe how news is reported and produced at CBS -- traditionally a mystery to viewers; it will be an effort by independent journalists to open a window into the operations of CBS News.

And Public Eye will wander outside of CBS as well. When stories about journalists and journalism are in the news, Public Eye will be free to write and report about them. The problems and work of other news organizations are fair game too.

We'll use every trick in the book for this project -- video, e-mail, regular writing, pictures, guest bloggers and Webcasts. We want it to be eclectic and fun.

What we're trying at Public Eye is similar to what many American newspapers do with columnists or editors they call ombudsmen, public advocates, readers' advocates or public editors. But Public Eye will do much more and, we dearly hope, blaze some new trails that will someday be commonplace. When he announced Public Eye, Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News, said it would be written and edited by a "nonbudsman" -- the idea being that Public Eye will be more informal, eclectic, conversation and interactive than its predecessors in newspapers. And Public Eye, led by its editor, will not be The Judge of Virtue at CBS News and will not issue Edicts and Pronouncements about what is acceptable or praiseworthy journalism and what is not.

Team Public Eye will be led by Vaughn Ververs, who we've lured away from The Hotline, Washington's most essential daily reading, where he was editor and wrote a television column called Talking Heads. Vaughn worked for CBS News for a spell between 1995 and 1997 and has also worked at Fox News and for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign. He'll be joined by Brian Montopoli, a writer and blogger for the Columbia Journalism Review who has also published widely in Slate, The New Republic and The Washington Monthly. And Hillary Profita comes to Public Eye from Nightline, where she was a researcher.

So keep an eye out for Public Eye.