The New York Times has a series on United States water pollution now that it calls Toxic Waters. Check out this excerpt:
The Times obtained hundreds of thousands of water pollution records through Freedom of Information Act requests to every state and the E.P.A., and compiled a national database of water pollution violations that is more comprehensive than those maintained by states or the E.P.A. (For an interactive version, which can show violations in any community, visit www.nytimes.com/toxicwaters.)
In addition, The Times interviewed more than 250 state and federal regulators, water-system managers, environmental advocates and scientists.
This is ‘traditional’ media showing why the media industry matters so much. And The New York Times is using the Web to provide a public service that complements its story.
This is a public good, with efforts that few if any bloggers could muster – though one could imagine some sort of crowdsourced version of the database with a wiki to back it up if it had a strong enough and passionate enough project lead. The reporting though takes it a step further – both are essential to tell this story.