What is a watchdog?
___A watchdog is an individual or group (generally non-profit) that keeps an eye on a particular entity or a particular element of community concern, and warns members of the community when potential or actual problems arise
___A watchdog may operate on the local, state, federal, or global level, and may deal with any issue or range of issues
___You can decide what kind of watchdog to be by considering:
- Your resources
- Your philosophy of activism
- What or whom you’re watching
- Whether you have opponents and who they are
- Your goals
- Whether you’re the best individual or organization to take action
What are the areas you might choose to monitor?
___Corporations and business
___American freedoms and civil rights
___The general public good
Why act as a watchdog?
___To defend those with little political or economic power, and help them learn how to gain and use that power
___To keep citizens aware of what is happening in their community and their world
___To maintain power in the hands of the community, rather than of those who have money or power or connections
___To prevent bad consequences that could cost the community economically or socially
___To promote social justice and social change
___To maintain democratic ideals
Who can act as a watchdog?
___Agencies or organizations concerned with a particular issue
___People affected by an issue or condition, or organizations that represent them
___Organizations that represent the general public interest
___Agencies, organizations, and individuals concerned with the economic consequences of policies, practices, and actions
___Those who are members of minority groups or represent minority interests, and want to make sure they aren’t discriminated against, and that their concerns aren’t ignored or forgotten
___Those concerned with the maintenance of democratic ideals
When should you act as a watchdog?
___When you’re seeking to institute or change laws or regulations
___When a new project or venture is starting or about to start, and you have doubts about its impact
___When you believe the public interest is threatened
___When an entity or individual – government or a government official, a corporation or industry, a police department, a human service program, etc. – has proven untrustworthy in the past
___When you receive information about actual, planned, or likely harmful or questionable actions or practices
___When democracy is actually or potentially under attack
___When simple justice demands it
How do you act as a watchdog?
___Do your research:
- Learn everything you need to know to be able to explain and discuss the background and history of the issue(s), situation(s), and entities that you’re concerned with
- Gather the facts about the current state of the issue, and/or about the current policies and practices of the entities you’re concerned with
- Build a network and cultivate sources
___Decide what you’re going to do with the information you have:
- Go public
- Use it as leverage
- Take official action
___Keep up your watchdog stance for the long term