Inspired by Wikileaks, a group of freelance journalists and computer scientists has developed a website known as Honest Appalachia. “We hope to allow whistle-blowers to anonymously and securely upload documents to our site, which we will then vet for authenticity,” says co-founder Jim Tobias.
It’s risky being a whistle-blower, according to Tobias. “So we felt that this resource would take that risk and replace it with a secure website that will enable whistle-blowers to more confidently blow the whistle on what they see as corruption.”
The launch of Honest Appalachia prompted discussion on the most recent edition of Ask the Governor. For his part, Governor Tom Corbett says he doesn’t trust anonymous sources. “You can say anything you want when you’re anonymous. If you say something, stand behind it.”
Tobias disagrees. He says anonymous whistle-blowing can be critically important to democracy. “Arguably the most important, crucial case of whistle-blowing in US history was done by an anonymous source, which was when Deep Throat leaked information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that enabled them to uncover the Watergate scandal.”
Per its name, Honest Appalachia covers a seven state region that includes Pennsylvania. Tobias says they’re already following a few leads, but are moving slowly because of their commitment to journalistic integrity. “We really don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t true.”