The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has announced that it will begin reporting its payments to doctors in late 2009, using an online database. But the disclosure is limited to payments of more than $500 made for giving talks or advice to the company; payments for other services or gifts will not be included. Payments made before 2009 will also not be disclosed.
A coalition of "consumer and good government groups, librarians, environmentalists, labor leaders, journalists, and others," OpenTheGovernment.org, has found that secrecy by the Bush administration continues to expand.
In a scathing review of the Chinese government's handling of the Olympics, Jacquelin Magnay writes "there has been the fake singer, the fake fireworks, the fake minority kids (they were all Han, and not from the 55 different ethnic groups as portrayed), the fake press freedoms, fake internet access, fake promises. ...
"The former spokeswoman for Arlington National Cemetery says the facility's No. 2 official has been calling military families to try to talk them out of media coverage of their loved ones' funerals, despite his denials that he does so," reports William H. McMichael.
As reporters and researchers know all too well, releasing information isn't necessarily the same thing as releasing useful information.
Case in point: the Pentagon's military analyst program. In early 2002, the Defense Department began cultivating "key influentials" -- retired military officers who are frequent media commentators -- to help the Bush administration make the case for invading Iraq. The program expanded over the years, briefing more participants on a wider range of Bush administration talking points, occasionally taking them overseas on the government's dime.
In April 2006, the group was used to counter criticism of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The apparent coordination between the Pentagon and the pundits piqued the interest of New York Times reporters. Two years later -- after wresting some 8,000 pages of internal documents from the Defense Department -- the Times exposed the Pentagon's covert attempts to shape public opinion through its so-called "message force multipliers." A few weeks later, the Defense Department posted the same documents publicly.
It wasn't the high-octane data dump it first appeared to be. Sure, paging through the emails, slides and briefing papers is interesting, and occasionally you come across something noteworthy. But the documents are formatted in such a way that systematically exploring them via keyword searches is impossible. A cynic (or realist) might think the Pentagon was doing damage control by putting the documents out in the open, while making it near-impossible to find crucial needles in a very large, chaotically-compiled haystack.
If you're looking for "real reporting" these days, Glenn Greenwald thinks a lot of it is coming from whistleblowers and advocacy groups rather than from journalists.