Quantcast
Connect with us

FCC to vote on whether broadcast political ad data should be posted online

Published

on

By Daniel Victor, ProPublica

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal that would require broadcasters to post political ad data online. While law currently requires the files to be public, the only way to access them now is to physically visit the stations.

As a broadcast journalism class at Kent State University demonstrated, it’s sometimes not the smoothest process.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of four Cleveland stations the students visited, only one would allow them to take footage, they reported, and only one official commented when asked if the files should be posted online. The stations also said copying the documents would cost 50 cents per page (over four times what FedEx Office charges), so the students couldn’t afford to copy them all.

Diana Pollock, the WKYC Channel 3 (NBC) research director who showed the students the files, said she objected to the students filming her in the lobby and hallway, but they did not ask to take footage of the files. Sam Rosenwasser, vice president and general manager at WEWS Channel 5 (ABC), said “we don’t allow anybody to bring cameras into the station,” and that the students would have to seek comment from Scripps Howard, which owns the station. Suzy Gigante, an executive assistant at WJW Channel 8 (FOX) who dealt with the students, declined to comment, and Station Manager Greg Easterly was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The files, which must be accessible to the public during business hours, reveal who bought political advertisements, how much they cost, and at what times the ads aired. Since we started our Free the Files project in March, almost 300 people have signed up to visit their local stations and help us post the files online. We’ve worked with news organizations (Wisconsin State Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer), universities (Northwestern) and everyday citizens to make the data more accessible. See more examples below, or sign up here if you’d like to contribute in your city.

Karl Idsvoog, the Kent State journalism professor who assigned his students to visit the Cleveland stations, contacted ProPublica after hearing Bill Moyers talk about our Free the Files project on Moyers & Company.

Several other organizations and individual contributors have jumped onboard the effort. Some new arrivals:

ADVERTISEMENT

Pennsylvania: Taryn Luna, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, grabbed ad buy records from Restore Our Future from WTAE and WPGH. Ed Mahon from the York Daily Record got files from each station in the York-Harrisburg-Lancaster market, while Jenny DeHuff of The (Norristown) Times-Herald visited Fox 29 in Philadelphia.

Public Source, a nonprofit news site dedicated to investigative journalism in western Pennsylvania, made copies of the files from Erie. Reporter Halle Stockton visited four stations in her hometown, and said the station employees were consistently friendly and helpful. The visits took about 15 minutes apiece, and each station charged her 25 cents per copy.

“I left the stations really wondering what the big deal would be if they had just posted the orders online so they would save some paper and everyone a trip,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Each of the contributors found similar results: An initial burst of spending from Mitt Romney and the Romney-supporting super PAC Restore Our Future, then a quick retreat from the airwaves after Rick Santorum dropped out of the race.

Wisconsin: Students in Herbert Lowe’s class at Marquette University gathered pre-primary files from Milwaukee. Thanks to Tessa Fox, Heather Ronaldson, Diana Voigt, Eric Oliver, Benjamin Sheehan, Mark Strotman, Caroline Campbell, Erin Caughey, Kelly White, Allison Kruschke, and Sara Torres.

ADVERTISEMENT

New York: Katrina Tulloch of The (Syracuse) Post-Standard found two super PACs that have advertised in the market. She also discovered that YNN, a cable channel, already has its political file online. (Cable TV channels also have to keep political files, but won’t be subject to the FCC’s proposal requiring them to be posted.)

Please sign up here if you’d like to contribute. You do not need to be part of an organization or university to participate. Here’s what the process consists of.

ADVERTISEMENT

[Photo of Mitt Romney via Flickr/davelawrence8]

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

White House ‘shamed into submission’: Senate finally passes Armenian genocide bill despite Trump’s objections

Published

on

In a direct refutation of the repeated objections of the Trump administration this Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

As USA Today points out, the historic move will likely complicate US-Turkey relations since it acknowledges that Turkey, then known as the Ottoman Empire, carried out the systematic killings of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923.

Continue Reading

CNN

‘It’s all distractions’: CNN panel obliterates GOP for totally refusing to discuss Trump’s conduct

Published

on

A CNN panel on Thursday obliterated House Republicans for once again completely ignoring the substance of allegations against President Donald Trump and instead throwing out numerous distractions intended to deflect attention from the president's actions.

"It's been distractions about the Bidens, it's been distractions about conspiracy theories about Ukraine's involvement in the election," said CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. "Yesterday, it was distractions about FISA and FISA so-called abuse. It was distractions from Congressman Gohmert reading calls from 1943! It's been all distractions and they won't wrestle with the actual conduct."

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Fox News’ Chris Wallace calls Trump out for promulgating ‘the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history’

Published

on

Even though Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro aggressively support President Donald Trump more often than not, he often takes to Twitter to complain when the right-wing cable news channel gives him a hard time. His main targets at Fox News include Judge Andrew Napolitano and Chris Wallace, both of whom have been highly critical of Trump at times. And when Wallace spoke at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night, he didn’t hesitate to call out Trump’s bitterly anti-media rhetoric.

Continue Reading