FAQs

FAQ Accordion

The Austin Bulldog is a nonprofit independent online news site for investigative reporting in the public interest.

We launched April 1, 2010, with a full-time editor who does investigative reporting, assigns investigative projects, and edits all content. We're small. We're scrappy. We aren't going to change the world, but we aim to make a difference in our little corner of it.

The Austin Bulldog is dedicated to hard-nosed journalism covering topics that matter. Our primary focus is almost entirely on what’s happening in our hometown, the city of Austin, Texas, although we will occasionally cover important stories on the outskirts. We will investigate matters involving government, media, politics, and anything else warranting close scrutiny that’s within our resources. We will strive to be an important source of news on the topics we cover.

The Austin Bulldog is nonprofit, nonpartisan and non-advocacy. We will question authority. We will go where the facts lead us and report accordingly.

We set high standards for our reporting. It must be accurate. It must be factual. It must be fair. We adhere to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

We subscribe to standards of independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News: The Austin Bulldog retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and all sources of revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

The Austin Bulldog may consider accepting donations to support the coverage of particular topics but our organization maintains editorial control over the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Our organization makes public the names of all donors and the amounts given by listing them on the Be a Bulldog Supporter page of this website.

We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with the INN’s Membership Standards.

By operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, we are dedicated solely to serving the public interest.

We view journalism as a public service that is essential to a free society.

Accordingly, all of our work is published on this website, available free to anyone with access to the Internet.

The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook, published by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., defines investigative reporting as the reporting, through one’s own initiative and work product, of matters of importance to readers. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed.

Some journalists have described investigative reporting as journalism that "engages the public to come to judgment," and "reporting with a sense of outrage."

The investigation must be the work of the reporter, not a report of an investigation made by someone else.

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This is the kind of reporting for which The Austin Bulldog was founded. We’ve got a fire in the belly and a passion for investigative reporting.

The Austin Bulldog is published by the Austin Investigative Reporting Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity. Contributions to The Austin Bulldog are tax-deductible.

Startup funding was provided by a New Voices $25,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, administered by J-Lab, The Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University.

We have sought other grants without success and concluded that grants are an uncertain source for ongoing funding.

Continued reporting operations must therefore depend entirely on gaining community support through tax-deductible donations.

The Austin Bulldog has no hidden agendas, no invisible men or women behind the curtain to influence what we do or do not investigate. To that end, the names of all contributors are gratefully acknowledged and permanently recognized on this website.

While contributors may request anonymity, we much prefer to list our donors by name so that there can be no question of the source of funds that make our work possible, or how our coverage may have been influenced.

We expect government and corporations to be open to public scrutiny, and we expect no less of ourselves. The Austin Bulldog will operate with complete transparency. To that end, the following documents are available for your inspection by clicking on the links provided:

Austin Investigative Reporting Project's Certificate of Formation as a Texas Nonprofit Corporation

Bylaws of the Austin Investigative Reporting Project

IRS Form 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for the Austin Investigative Reporting Project

IRS Form 1023 Attachment providing supplemental information

The IRS determination letter that approved the Austin Investigative Reporting Project as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, for which contributions are tax-deductible

IRS Form 990-N for 2009, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

IRS Form 990-N for 2010, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ 2011 U.S. Exempt Organization Tax Return (Form 990-EZ)

IRS Form 990-N for 2012, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

IRS Form 990-N for 2013, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

IRS Form 990-N for 2014, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

IRS Form 990-N for 2015, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

IRS Form 990-N for 2016, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ

Future tax returns for the Austin Investigative Reporting Project will be posted on this website and linked at such times as they are completed and filed in accordance with federal law.

You may also request copies of the exemption application or annual returns by calling the IRS Exempt Organizations Customer Account Services at 877-829-5500.

Our readers have the priceless opportunity to support the important work of investigative reporting for stories that matter in the Austin, Texas, community.

This website makes it easy. Please go to the Contribute page for details.

We believe that in many cases our collective audience knows more about the topics we cover than we do, and we want our readers to actively participate in focusing and refining our coverage.

We want interaction, lots of it.

This website provides an easy way for you to blow the whistle about something we should investigate.

We may on occasion use Facebook or Twitter to announce the broad topic of a story we’re working on and ask for your ideas on how it should be covered, angles that should not be overlooked, sources of information that might be helpful. We may post documents on the site that we need your help in analyzing and understanding.

This method of enlisting the community's help is called “crowdsourcing,” a term coined by author Jeff Howe. We think it’s a great way for readers--as beneficiaries of this nonprofit organization’s work--to volunteer information and actively participate in the news-gathering process.

We want to create an active, ongoing dialog with readers about anything and everything we publish. We want you to add your knowledge to amplify, clarify, or criticize what you read on this site, or correct the record if we get something wrong.

The goal of this approach is to involve our readers to fill gaps and plug holes in our stories, to in essence become co-creators who expand everyone’s knowledge of the topics we cover.

To that end, the site has been constructed to publish your comments on the stories we publish. We will be reading your comments and we will be active in the ongoing conversation by responding with our own comments as we learn from your feedback.

We want to facilitate a community conversation and to that end we ask that comments be confined to the topic addressed in the story where you are commenting and that commenters refrain from personal attacks.

To prevent being inundated by spam we require that you register before being able to comment.

Comments for a given story will be accepted for 45 days after the publication date.

Please be civil. We are providing a forum for a thoughtful public discussion, a marketplace for ideas.

No biting, head-butting or hitting below the belt is allowed.

Please be respectful and refrain from personal attacks, vulgarity, insults, spam and shameless self-promotion.

Comments must be free of libel, hate speech and harassment.

Comments must be relevant to the article to which they’re connected.

Beyond that, put your opinions in the public arena and let the verbal combat begin.

Comments will be posted automatically, without prior review but we will be monitoring comments and engaging in the conversations taking place. When abuses are reported, we’ll step in and check, and we reserve the right to remove material that violates these rules.

Anonymous comments discouraged. You wouldn’t want The Austin Bulldog to publish anonymous articles, would you? We would never do that. Authors need to be immediately recognized and held accountable in the court of public opinion for what they write.

Ideally everybody who posts comments on this site would stand behind what they write by using their real names and not hide behind fictitious names.

To achieve that end and to prevent spam, we require registration before readers are allowed to comment.

Comments for a given story will be accepted for 45 days after the publication date.

A variety of websites have sprung up in Austin over the years. Some are high-dollar subscription newsletters for insiders with a monetary need-to-know. Among the free-to-read sites, some fill a well-defined niche, such as partisan politics or criminal justice.

None of these sites—-subscription or free—-are dedicated to investigative reporting by experienced professional journalists. That’s our niche.

Investigative reporting takes time. We’re not going to bowl you over with high volume. Our approach is to publish important information when it has been fact-checked, thoroughly edited, and deemed ready for publication.

Although Editor Ken Martin has been a full-time journalist in the three-county Austin metro area since 1981, The Austin Bulldog started small and seeks to earn community support for growth and improvement. The more support we get, the more reporting we will be able to publish.

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