Today, FairWarning—a new non-profit online news journal focusing on stories involving worker and consumer protection issues—went live. On its first day, the site offered dozens of short news stories along with three longer investigative pieces.
FairWarning says its mission is “to arm consumers and workers with valuable information, and to spotlight reckless business practices and lax oversight by government agencies.” The organization says that the mainstream media is no longer able to play this “watchdog” role effectively due to shrinking budgets.
The publication’s first three investigative stories suggest that FairWarning will serve as a valuable resource to public interest organizations and policymakers interested in protecting the health and safety of workers and consumers. For example, one story investigates how General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have failed to protect consumers from a line of older pickup trucks that frequently combust during accidents due to the faulty design of their gas tanks. It's particularly relevant given that some of the questions the story asks could just as easily be asked of NHTSA and Toyota regarding their response to the spate of unintended acceleration problems in Toyota’s cars.
A second story examines the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) industry’s inconsistent role in promoting stronger safety regulations for their products at both the state and federal levels. It's important news, and it may offer a preview of what the Consumer Product Safety Commission might expect if it decides to follow through with the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that it announced last October for setting standards for a recreational off-road vehicles.