Thursday, October 05, 2006

Introducing The Center for Public Integrity's Well Connected

The Center for Public Integrity has put together a useful set of resources on the website“Well Connected: Tracking the Broadcast, Cable & Telecommunications Industry” which describes itself as "an ongoing investigation…of the businesses that control the nation’s information pipelines and of their government overseers." The project is funded by the Ford Foundation, with partial funding from the Open Society Institute.

Three Research Tools on the righthand site of the home page are worth checking out. As described in ResourceShelf:

Click on the In Your State link. On the righthand side of the next page is a dropdown menu inside a U.S. map. Choose your state and click “Go” to get a report. Which telecom companies are pulling the strings in your state government? Find out which telecommunications companies are spending the most on lobbying and campaign contributions. Learn about your public utility boards, where they are located and how to file a complaint. Also, view the personal financial disclosure statements of board members and learn how much they earn. Within this information you’ll find a link to a “Public Service Commission Disclosure Ranking Report Card,” which evaluates financial disclosure requirements for public service commission public utility board members in each state.

Use the MediaTracker search box to find out who owns the media outlets in your local area. Enter a zip code, a call sign, or a city/state combination. You’ll get detailed charts of all the radio and TV stations and major newspapers in your area. A multi-faceted search box at the top allows you to fine-tune your results — e.g., by geographic radius. Note that you can get detailed profiles of the owner companies by using the dropdown menu in the search box or clicking on the live links in the “owner” column at the far right of each chart

The InfluenceTracker — which covers broadcast radio/TV, cable/satellite TV and telephone companies — provides information on:
Campaign Contributions (from 1998 through September 2004).
Junkets — e.g., “industry-funded trips…by members of the House and Senate commerce committees and their staffs between January of 2000 and March of 2004.”
Lobbying — “amounts that companies, associations and unions spend on lobbying Congress and federal agencies as well as amounts paid to consultants hired to affect policy.”
Revolving Door — “The most comprehensive outline to date of the back-and-forth movement of people from government to industry.”

You can also read about the methodology used to gather and process all this information into “a 51,870-record database consisting of every radio and television station and cable television system in the United States.”

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