Why Support the Center for Media and Democracy?

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to CMD:

  • Because we believe protecting democracy requires informing citizens about not only what’s really happening behind the scenes but also what you can do about it.
  • We believe in holding the powerful accountable. And we do.
  • We believe the truth matters. And, we are willing to dig for it.

We accept no funding from for-profit corporations or government grants, so this work needs your support to survive and thrive. We may be small but we are mighty: your tax-deductible contribution will make a world of difference and truly be appreciated!

Please be as generous as you can to help expose the powerful corporations and people attempting to distort our democracy on issues affecting our lives and our future. You can also click here to join the fight against disinformation.

To donate online, please click the red button on the right side of the page to donate now. Thank you!

To donate by mail or make a bequest, please contact us at CMD, P.O. Box 259010, Madison, WI 53715, 608-260-9713.

You can also reach us using our online contact form.

Thank you!

Lisa Graves

Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy

Here is more detailed information about CMD:

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a boutique investigative research and reporting group with a demonstrated capacity to break major news stories and highlight the work of advocates. Located in Madison, Wisconsin, it is a national, non-profit watchdog organization, founded in 1993. CMD's niche is investigating and exposing the undue influence of corporations and front groups on public policy, including PR campaigns, lobbying, and electioneering. CMD's original reporting helps educate the public and aid grassroots action about policies affecting people’s lives—their rights and the health of our democracy.

CMD publishes PRWatch.org, ALECexposed.org, and SourceWatch.org.

Its special investigations, in addition to ALECexposed which CMD launched in 2011, include OutsourcingAmericaExposed, NFIBexposed, Fix the Debt/the Pete Peterson Pyramid, the State Policy Network Exposed, BanksterUSA, and the Food Rights Network, among others. CMD also hosts CoalSwarm and FrackSwarm on CMD's SourceWatch website. CMD has also done extensive work documenting and exposing dark money in federal and state politics, including original breakthrough reporting about the influence of the Koch brothers. Based on these investigations, CMD has called for amending the Constitution to repeal the Supreme Court's decision in the "Citizens United" case and related cases expanding the power of money and corporations in American democracy. CMD also investigates federal and state surveillance policies that affect the rights of the American people.

CMD's ongoing investigation of ALEC -- along with the corporations bankrolling its operations and "scholarships" for legislators to attend posh resorts where corporate lobbyists and elected officials vote behind closed doors on "model" legislation to change Americans' rights -- has won significant awards for investigative journalism and has transformed the national conversation.

Our recent awards for ALECexposed include:

  • the "Izzy" I.F. Stone Award for outstanding achievement in independent media from the Park Center;

  • the Sidney Award (shared jointly with The Nation for breaking the story of CMD's ALECexposed project) from the Sidney Hillman Foundation; and

  • the annual Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Culture and Critical Studies Division, whose past recipients include Izzy Stone, Bill Moyers, and Molly Ivins.

  • and a "Benny" from the Business Ethics Network.

CMD has also been honored by the Milwaukee Press Club for one of its recent investigations into shadowy front groups influencing elections.

We accept no funding from for-profit corporations or grants from government agencies.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to support our work, please click here.

Team CMD

This national, independent, non-partisan public interest newsgroup is led by Lisa Graves, who formerly served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice and Chief Counsel for Nominations for the chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, among other executive roles in Washington, DC. She joined CMD in late 2009. CMD's Deputy Director is Mary Bottari, who is also the Director of CMD's Real Economy Project.

CMD has assembled a top-notch team that combines extraordinary research capacity with the ability to break stories, translating complex documentary evidence and policy issues into powerful narratives, along with smart analysis, engaging language, and compelling graphics. CMD also has in-house counsel to back up its investigative efforts and a talented project management team that can process a mountain of information and deliver excellent and timely special reports.

This is CMD's Masthead:

  • Lisa Graves, Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief

  • Mary Bottari, Deputy Director/Managing Editor

  • Brendan Fischer, General Counsel/Reporter

  • Rebekah Wilce, Project Director/Reporter

  • Nick Surgey, Research Director/Writer

  • Patricia Barden, IT Director/Graphic Design

  • Sari Williams, Outreach Director/Graphic Design

  • Friday Thorn, Associate Editor/Graphic Design

  • Nikolina Lazic, Press Associate/Development Assistant

CMD also publishes freelance stories from investigative reporters and also pays graduate and undergraduate students who intern here and aid our research efforts.

CMD's Board of Directors consists of David Merritt, Inger Stole, Jan Miyasaki, Ellen Braune, Deborah Bey, Clarisa Long, Cosmo Harrigan, and Executive Director Lisa Graves.

CMD was founded in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1993, by John Stauber, who led CMD until he retired to become an independent activist in 2009.

Our team of writers and researchers focus on:

  • Reporting that promotes informed decision-making about policies and products affecting our lives--our economy, our environment, our health, our liberty, our security, and the health of our democracy--and analysis and opinion that aids citizen involvement and grassroots action
  • Investigating and countering PR campaigns and spin by corporations, industries, and government agencies.
  • Advancing media literacy by helping people recognize the forces shaping the information they receive.
  • And promoting citizen journalism as an alternative to the corporate media, so people from all walks of life can "be the media" and help write the history of companies, front groups, and people influencing public policy

To see what other journalists have said about CMD -- including Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, the late Molly Ivins and others -- click here.

To help educate the public, the Center for Media and Democracy:

  • Publishes the online magazine, PRWatch, which contains our original reporting, investigations, and analysis on corporate policies, products, and PR spin. It also publishes The SPIN, an e-periodical that highlights CMD's key reporting on these issues.  (Click here to subscribe to The SPIN).  (PRWatch was a quarterly print news periodical from 1993 through 2009, when it migrated to a fully online publication.)
  • Manages SourceWatch--our specialized, collaborative encyclopedia of people, groups and issues shaping the public agenda--and also BanksterUSA.org, which focuses on financial and economic reform.
  • Launches original investigations into major national issues, such as our reporting about American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),  the Wisconsin protests against efforts to destroy public bargaining, tobacco issues, and misinformation about homeland security claims. In 2011, we also launched CMD's Food Rights Network to expose how companies were selling people "compost" to use in their gardens, including in school gardens, without disclosing that the material was really industrial and human sewage sludge.
  • Supports strategic public education campaigns, such as our work to help protect consumers and educate the public about financial reforms and also health insurance industry spin, in addition to our response to the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case expanding corporate "rights," and our continuing role analyzing surveillance of Americans.  (Prior educational outreach included our successful Defend The Press campaign with the National Press Club and other partners, and our 2008 "Election Protection" wiki in partnership with the Huffington Post and other organizations.)

Ground-breaking books by writers from the Center for Media and Democracy include:

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.