As you enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends this year, beware the silent guest: the American media. The way we talk about issues in our country, and even the issues we choose to discuss, are influenced daily by media reporting. Media should be contributing to an informed citizenry that’s so vital to American democracy. We know that’s not’s happening. How can we change media so it helps people understand their government? Two of our grant recipient organizations are changing the industry by generating the types of quality information needed to make media more relevant to informed citizens and a strong democracy.
Breaking the Monopoly of News Coverage on State Government
“There’s a hole in the center of media, an absence of content about where taxpayer dollars are going,” says Chris Krug, founder of Franklin News Foundation. “In addition, the inherent balance we used to have in the way news is curated and told is gone. Traditional newspapers are ignoring 50% of their audience, and it’s become clear that business model doesn’t work anymore.”
Franklin publishes TheCenterSquare.com, a newswire service and digital hub dedicated to reporting statehouse and local government news. Its national network of editors and reporters generate 40 to 50 stories a day, seven days a week, which are picked up by legacy publishers and broadcasters at no cost to them. “A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues. As a result of this approach, our readers are better informed about the focus of state and local government and its cost to the citizens whose tax dollars fund governmental decisions,” says Krug.
Speaking at this year’s Bradley Impact Conference, Krug noted that based on circulation of Center Square stories in local Wisconsin papers, Franklin would rank as the third largest newspaper in the state. And this is just five months after launching The Center Square in May 2019.
Hear more from Chris about distributing fair and balanced statehouse news across the country.
Delivering Informed Election Information
“About 12 years ago, I realized it was really hard to find great information about state legislators,” says Leslie Graves, founder and publisher of Ballotpedia. “Even about U.S. Senators, U.S. House members and definitely about school board members or other politicians lower down the ballot. Very hard to find information about judges, even our State Supreme Court justices in any of the 50 states. You can find a place to groom your dog in Peoria, Illinois 300 miles away on the internet but you can't find out who your local judge is. That's a bad thing for democracy.”
So Graves founded Ballotpedia, a website that delivers comprehensive coverage of candidates and incumbents on ballots at the national, state, and local levels. “Ballotpedia's fundamental mission is to narrow the gap so that voters of all ages, creeds, and beliefs, and backgrounds can really figure out who they want to vote for,” says Graves. “One of the things we do well at Ballotpedia because of Bradley is to take really complicated, big topics like the administrative state, or fracking, or election integrity and break it down. We present the arguments and help people who don't read politics 24/7 to absorb it and feel like they really understand the topic.” Hear more from Leslie about this free online resource available to all Americans.
Ballotpedia and Franklin New Foundations are disruptors, shaping the American media of the future. The local news and relevant, actionable information they generate helps citizens come together to solve our nation’s challenges. You can help change American media by making a gift to the Constitutional Order and/or Informed Citizens Fund at the Bradley Impact Fund. Donate now.