After launching in 2014, publisher Shawn McCoy’s Washington news startup InsideSources hit its stride in 2015, adding reporters and expanding its reach online and in the news and opinion pages of hundreds of papers across the country.
Here’s a look back at some of the top stories of the year from InsideSources:
After the president called for tuition-free community college, InsideSources founder McCoy took an in-depth look at the holes in the White House plan, concluding that investing in Common Core might be the smarter bet. “From a policy perspective, conservatives and liberals can likely agree we would be better off making sure students graduate high school equipped to meet certain college- and career-ready standards. This would save billions of dollars from taxpayer-subsidized remedial college education,” McCoy wrote.
Kevin Rennie, a longtime columnist with the Hartford Courant, joined InsideSources in February. Rennie is known for uncovering then-Senator Chris Dodd’s dubious real estate dealings in 2009, which led The Wall Street Journal to call the Connecticut Democrat “enterprising” and The Daily Telegraph (London) “relentless.” He also unearthed damaging information early in the Gov. John Rowland (R-CT) scandals. Rennie writes regularly for InsideSources on the presidential race and corruption in government.
InsideSources was the first to report the news Martine Niejadlik, chief compliance officer at Coinbase, was stepping down at a time when the virtual currency exchange was under scrutiny. An investigation by InsideSources found that Coinbase’s customer service was happy to advise customers on ways to avoid international sanctions in transferring Bitcoin across borders.
On March 9, InsideSources posted an exclusive interview with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who was celebrating passage of the state’s balanced budget.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty called for congressional action on patent trolls in an April 16 piece, writing: “Patent trolls have brought patent litigation against virtually every type of financial institution.”
On April 9, InsideSources co-sponsored with America’s Power an energy policy panel discussion, “Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate,” in Des Moines, Iowa, that included three GOP presidential contenders: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Tech reporter Giuseppe Macri took over InsideSources’ ongoing coverage of Washington efforts to regulate the Internet with this May 7 post that included an ominous warning from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: “It is conceivable to me to see the government saying, ‘We think the Drudge Report is having a disproportionate effect on our political discourse.’”
Macri also kicked off a year-long series of reports on net neutrality with his May 11 post on inter-corporate email sniping between Sony and Netflix.
Politics and culture reporter Graham Vyse took a look at how millennials will reshape the labor market for decades. Sarah Lovenheim, a spokesperson for Young Invincibles, a progressive advocacy group, told Vyse: “The workplace is changing, and millennials are going to have a big impact on how that goes.”
On a hot summer day in Baltimore, Vyse captured the skepticism that greeted former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign announcement, just weeks after riots ripped the city.
In 2015, Vyse regularly offered deep-dives into the cultural and political context of upcoming film releases. Here, he wrote about “Best of Enemies,” a documentary on ABC News’ 1968 debates between iconic conservative writer William F. Buckley Jr. and legendary left-wing scribe Gore Vidal. “What they were doing is anticipating the culture wars that we live in now,” filmmaker Robert Gordon told Vyse.
Macri kept InsideSources’ readers informed about online privacy — or more accurately, the lack thereof — all year, with exclusives from the FCC, Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley.
Former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse offered an InsideSources’ exclusive: a look at the aftermath of the largest strike of 2014, a work stoppage that may have crippled Northeast telephone firm FairPoint Communications.
Macri’s reporting on the intersection of government and social media became must-reads for InsideSources’ tech audience.
InsideSources was quick to cover the Washington media’s aversion — even outright rejection — of surprise GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
Macri’s report that a group of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies including Facebook, Google, Dell, HP, eBay and others had joined the patent war between Apple and Samsung went viral online and became one of the site’s most-read and most-talked about stories of the year.
This July 28 InsideSources piece seems particularly prescient now. The article was based on an InsideSources panel held in Columbia, South Carolina featuring journalists who cover early primary states.
Jim McTague, formerly Barron’s Washington bureau chief, wrote for InsideSources on Kyle Bass, a flamboyant hedge fund manager who took Wall Street by storm seven years ago with his prediction of the collapse of the nation’s mortgage market. McTague’s profile offered new insights on Bass – including an exclusive interview with Bass himself – as Bass finds himself at a low point with audacious predictions that have not panned out.
In this Aug. 20 post, InsideSources reported about 40 percent of government employees break the rules against using personal devices at work, according to cyber-security firm Lookout.
The struggle between law enforcement and technology companies over access to user data has swung between extremes in recent months, and no reporter has covered the back-and-forth better than InsideSources’ Macri. In this Sept. 17 post (just weeks before the terror attacks in Paris), InsideSources reported U.S. tech companies were doubling down, despite FBI concerns: “We are working towards more encryption on our products and our services as part of a larger plan to make sure the data services we provide to our users are secure,” Google’s Richard Salgado told senators.
In this Oct. 4 profile, Vyse offers a surprisingly intimate look at the 1960s Chicago radical and his relationship with “official” Washington. “To Republicans, he’s a boogeyman … For Democrats, concurrently, he’s a political liability,” Vyse wrote.
InsideSources regularly checks in on District of Columbia politics and city government, including the city council’s controversial plan to implement the most generous paid leave policy in the country — up to 16 weeks of compensated time off annually for “personal medical care, child births or adoptions, and circumstances requiring time serving as a primary caregiver.”
In this Nov. 2 piece, Greenhouse uncovered the growing Democratic Party schism in California that increasingly pits labor unions and low-skill workers against wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and their elite work force.
Longtime Washington journalist Llewellyn King, who joined the stable of InsideSources contributors in 2015, explained in this Nov. 8 column why the dispute over China’s man-made islands matters: “One third of the world’s shipping passes through the South China Sea, and its rich fishing grounds are a vital food source for the region,” King wrote. “The United States does … have a vital interest in checking Chinese expansion and the interests of its Asian allies who expect a robust U.S. response to China’s island grab — and claim to a whole ocean.”
Filmmaker Michael Moore made national news in this Nov. 18 article from InsideSources, sharing his ennui about supporting Hillary Clinton. “Moore … said he was particularly turned off when the Democratic front-runner rolled her eyes [during debates] at … Denmark: ‘They do a lot of great things in Denmark, and she’s appealing to the C+ students that George Bush was appealing to when she tries to de-intellectualize things.’”
Former Washington Times and Roll Call editor David Eldridge, who joined InsideSources in October, was among the first to report President Barack Obama’s promotion of nominee Eric K. Fanning to serve as acting secretary of the Army, bypassing the Senate confirmation process. The openly gay nominee’s rise to the top civilian post in the Army was touted by many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as proof of the administration’s commitment to equal rights.
Following up on an exclusive InsideSources report from July 2014, Carter Dougherty wrote a Dec. 17 exposé about the fuzzy lines between advising government officials and profiting from offering that advice: “Jim Parrott advised the White House about how to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during 2011 and 2012 before jumping ship to form his own consultancy. Before a year was out, Parrott appears to have landed a major client: Bank of America, which was keenly interested in how the Obama administration might reform the two mortgage-credit behemoths.”
With Trump showing no sign of slipping in the polls, InsideSources looked into the viability of a legitimate third-party candidate. In this Dec. 4 post, Eldridge reported that, with the two major parties in control of the debates, odds are stacked against a third-party candidate finding himself or herself on the prime-time stage next fall.
InsideSources was the first news organization to write about the surprising remarks from two conservative civil rights leaders.
For one thing, the Vermont senator would make a “lousy commander in chief,” and his staff thinks he’s an “asshole” and a “prick” the author told InsideSources’ Vyse.
Yep. No “War on Women.” Nevermind.
Like just about everyone in the country, InsideSources caught Star Wars fever in December, and the return of the space epic had Dougherty musing about the film’s positive impact on young women, including his daughter. Political debate surrounding the film also prompted an authoritative essay, Dispelling Some Confusion Over Star Wars – and the GOP Primary, on the ethics of Star Wars from InsideSources boss McCoy, as well as a couple of newsy posts from Vyse on American skepticism about space exploration (Star Wars-Loving Americans Split Over Government Role) and the franchise’s enduring appeal among Washingtonians (Newt Gingrich Goes Full ‘Star Wars’ Nerd in 2007 Ken Burns Documentary).