News Startups Guide

Boise Guardian

Pugnacious reporting on Boise’s institutions

March 24, 2011

Boise.Guardian.pngBOISE, IDAHO — The Boise Guardian, a one-man muckraking blog in Boise, Idaho, has developed an outsized influence and a regular following, thanks to the energy of its proprietor/ reporter, Dave Frazier. No friend of city hall, Frazier has an Idaho court decision named after him. In 2005, he sued the city of Boise for taking out a loan on a new police station without first seeking voters’ approval for the bond. The city argued the station was an “ordinary and necessary expense,” but Frazier prevailed.

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    • Frazier started the Guardian in 2005 to supplement what he saw as an insufficiently pugnacious local press. As he explained in an early post: “The local media depends on a friendly reception from the government and big business. This natural timidity combined with a profit motive leaves print, TV and radio news emasculated. (In English that means they don’t have any cajones.)”

      Rather than deliver comprehensive coverage, Frazier investigates news stories he considers under-reported, like the high cost of lawmaker pensions or the payment of public money to a YMCA. He’s also a fan of stories ripe for cynical humor, like a local hockey team’s indecent exposure scandal. “That action put the team in the penalty box for a couple of weeks” is the sort of pun he favors.

      Frazier sometimes sees results. The Guardian’s early investigation into corruption at a local waste facility ended in two arrests, building the site’s reputation right out of the gate.

      Frazier’s gadfly act draws from a journalistic background. The ornery sixty-five-year-old requests public records, interviews sources, and tracks down facts. He’s also a third generation journalist. He began as a reporter, writing for Newsweek, Time, and The New York Times, but soon made the transition to photojournalism. He now owns a stock photo agency as his day job, and self-deprecatingly refers to the Guardian as “a hobby.” Nonetheless, he posts regularly and relies on donations to offset the costs of public records requests, gas, and legal fees. He has sued the city for records more than once.

      It should be noted that although the Guardian’s fiscal muckraking has earned it a $3,000 award from the Tea Party-supportive Sam Adams Alliance, Frazier’s political stances fall outside of any party orthodoxy. His antagonistic reporting always focuses on specific projects rather than broad platforms. The Boise Guardian is unlikely to take a position on “environmentalism” as a whole, for example, but it will firmly oppose cyanide in the Boise River.

      Frazier’s journalistic shoe leather, flippant tone, and intense scrutiny of institutions in his community have won a place for his blog in Boise’s media scene. The Guardian has managed to become a meaningful, if small, particpant in public discourse. Though the police department is no longer willing to send him press releases, Frazier is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.

Boise Guardian Data

Name: Boise Guardian


City: Boise

Chris Benz is a contributor to CJR.