Watchdog journalism: Hardly a newspaper afterthought

I've just helped judge a journalism contest for my alma mater, McClatchy, and have a couple of observations to report: First, don't believe those who argue that newspapers' investigative reporting is so minimal that it's easily replaced. It isn't small, and if newspapers couldn't do it anymore, the void would be very deep. Second, high-quality watchdog reporting isn't simply the province of big national players doing "secret prisons" or "secret eavesdropping" stories. It's also the heart and soul of newsrooms across the country that keep watch over their communities and regions. I say these things not primarily to brag about…