News Articles By
It's been a busy week on Congresspedia. New additions to the site include:
- lots of contributions by members of the Congresspedia/SourceWatch community on bribery scandals, new legislation, heavyweight corporate campaign contributors, censuring the president and federal investigations into an "improper relationship" with a lobbyist (see full list)
- a new page on the Colbert Report with links to the videos of each of his "Better Know a District" member of Congress interviews
- and a fancy new tool for looking up your particular member of Congress by your home address.
Also well worth checking out is the muckraking action over at the Sunlight Foundation blogs. The new Congresspedia article contributions include:
"Fast Food Nation" mega-selling author Eric Schlosser must be doing something right. He's under vicious attack from food industry lobbyists and front groups mimicking his book title in their website smearing him. Long time Fleishman-Hillard food flack Becky Johnson and her fellow spinmeisters risk publicizing Schlosser's writings in their over-the-top efforts to condemn him.
The industrial food lobby is freaking-out over "Chew On This", his new book with Charles Wilson aimed at youngsters, and the fact that his "Fast Food Nation" is being made into a major Hollywood movie with the same title. Best Food Nation is the food industry's sound-alike website funded by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, and 14 other food lobbies. The website highlights anti-Schlosser rants by industry-funded front groups including Heartland Institute and the American Council on Science and Health.
In the week and a half since my first blog entry on network neutrality legisilation and the creation of the corresponding Congresspedia article, there have been two new pro-neutrality bills filed and two new conflicts of interest for the sponsors of the anti-neutrality legislation.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson has been in hot water over comments he made in late April in which he suggested that he cancelled a federal contract because the recipient stated that he didn't like President George W. Bush. Now Jackson is claiming that he made the story up and the spokesperson who originally talked to the press has gone on leave.
The man nominated today to head the CIA by President George W. Bush, General Michael V. Hayden, has been tracked by SourceWatch (the "mother-wiki" of Congresspedia) users on his own profile page since 2003. It's still basic, but now that he's famous for more than not knowing what the 4th amendment says while serving as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (see his profile), we hope it will be expanded by our community of contributors.
As he moves through his confirmation process I also expect to see postings to the pages on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and its members as that committee's confirmation hearings for Hayden approach.
One news director says, "I have been instructed by corporate not to talk to you."
Hours after the Center for Media and Democracy released our study on television stations' widespread and undisclosed use of corporate video news releases (VNRs), a major organization of broadcast news executives issued its response.
"The Radio-Television News Directors Association strongly urges station management to review and strengthen their policies requiring complete disclosure of any outside material used in news programming," read the statement. RTNDA went on to caution that decisions involving "when and how to identify sources ... must remain far removed from government involvement or supervision."
Unfortunately, RTNDA's statement conflates "sources" with broadcast material funded by and produced for outside parties. It also conveniently ignores that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, under its authority to regulate broadcasters' use of the public airwaves, already has disclosure requirements (PDF) on the books. But RTNDA's stance does point to an important, underlying issue: how to ensure both news audiences' right to know "who seeks to influence them," and the editorial freedom of newsrooms.
Is the Internet about to change from a free-spirited marketplace of "may the best Web site win" to a top-down, corporate-controlled glorified cable package? A diverse coalition of bloggers, academics, citizens groups and non-profit organizations think we're in danger of just that.
I'm listening to Neil Young's new album, Living With War. It's not my first time; I was lucky enough to be at a private listening last week in California. But now, along with millions of others connected to the Internet, I'm hearing it free of charge through my computer speakers, courtesy of Mr. Young and his absolutely brilliant bunch of guerrilla marketers and movement builders.
Welcome to the debut of Congresspedia, the "citizen's encyclopedia on Congress." Congresspedia is a bold new experiment by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation in distributed citizen journalism. It is based on the wiki model (think Wikipedia) and is a subset of the Center's SourceWatch wiki.