With just three guys in a plain office building on Manhattan's East side, investigative website TheSmokingGun.com revealed the LA Times' Tupac Shakur story was based on fake documents, exposed lying memoirist James Frey and found out that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is into loofahs. The site modestly attributes much of its success to the recent digitization of court records and such, but it probably helps that its editor is a "veteran Mafia reporter" who knows where to look, and when, for the juiciest records:
[Editor William] Bastone said most people writing on the Web are most interested in its characteristics as a megaphone, as opposed to the toolbox it contains for practicing journalism.
"Name me a Web site that does original reporting. There aren't many," he said. Mr. Bastone is a low-key man who does not seem like the kind of guy who would be breaking big stories about Mafia figures, but he remains surprised that very little digital shoe leather is being expended, given the opportunities.
"It is beyond night and day from just 15 years ago in terms of reporting," he said, shaking his head." When I think about how many hours - hundreds of days, really - I spent in records offices looking for stuff I can just get on my desktop, it drives me crazy."