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Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Acting as a Watchdog
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas 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.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas 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
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Among the areas you might choose to monitor are: Government. Corporations and business. Media. The environment. Human rights. Hate groups. American freedoms and civil rights. Public safety. Consumer affairs. The general public good.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Why act as a watchdog? Self-interest. 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. Simple justice.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas 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. Professional organizations. 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.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas 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.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas 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.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas How do you act as a watchdog? Decide what you’re going to do with the information you have Nothing. Go public. Use it as a lever. Take official action. Keep up your watchdog stance for the long term
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