Pew study points to work of Franklin Center journos

Last week, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study examining 46 nonprofit news websites, which have become more prevalent as traditional media outlets have disappeared.

The study, which analyzed 1,203 stories from the month of September 2010, found that more than half of the news sites were ideologically based.

Among the sites analyzed were the national investigative site and the statehouse reporting news site

Both of these sites are run by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit group working with news organizations in more than 40 states.

To many in the press and around the nation, the Pew study was an introduction to the work of the Franklin Center. And, although we don’t agree with all of Pew’s findings about our organization, we urge readers around the nation to judge for themselves. That’s right, go to our various news sites; sign up for our news clips and read the stories for yourself.

What you will find is that the Franklin Center and our network of reporters are dedicated to educating the public about corruption, incompetence, fraud, waste and abuse of public trust by elected officials.

What you will also find is that the Franklin Center and our reporters are accurate, independent and relentlessly in pursuit to expose the truth and to hold our government officials accountable to the people they represent.

But you don’t have to take our word for it; you can look at the various awards, testimonials and coverage that our reporters have earned in the two years that the Franklin Center has been operational., a statehouse news bureau operating in Oklahoma City, earned two awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, in its first year of eligibility. 

Bill McMorris, editor of Old Dominion Watchdog, was a recipient of a 2010 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship.

In addition, hundreds of newspapers, radio stations and broadcast networks are using the news produced from the Franklin Center’s network of journalists every day.

Illinois Statehouse News is a shining example of the success that we have had partnering with for-profit media companies. Since going live in December 2009, ISN’s daily content has been used by more than 50 daily newspapers, more than a dozen radio stations and nearly a dozen television stations in every media market in the state, including Chicago.

Our reporters have also broken news around the nation and had their stories picked up in the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Examiner, and numerous other legacy media outlets.

Another recent example: The Goldwater Institute’s Watchdog Report published an article on a handful of taxpayers in a small community north of Wickenburg, Ariz., being targeted by the local school district.

The district filed a lawsuit asking a judge to declare that the taxpayers have no right to request public records, sue the district or complain to outside agencies.

This story received national attention and was picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted online in the Washington Post, New York Times and CBS News.

That is one of the many stories that our reporters are producing daily. We are proud of the work that we do and know that our reporting teams located throughout the country are making the difference when our country needs it most.

We sincerely hope that we are read by liberals, conservatives, independents and nonpolitical individuals, because our audience is American taxpayers generally, not advocates of a specific political party.

Asking tough questions of the government is not restricted to one political party or the other. Demanding accountability of our elected officials is not an exclusively conservative or liberal ideal.

There is a desperate need for the work that we do and, as long as there is news to tell, the Franklin Center and our reporters will be there to cover it.

Jason Stverak is president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

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