ALEC Politician Claims ALEC Meetings Are "Open to the Public." Really?

ALEC's Rep. Bill Howell (R-VA)Confronted with a report by ProgressVA stating that through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) corporate lobbyists get access to legislators "behind closed doors," ALEC politician Bill Howell dismissed the claim and told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that all ALEC meetings were open to the public.


That would be breaking news to both traditional press and the online media that have been blocked from ALEC meetings and are increasingly being threatened with arrest.

Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source

As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state. Who funds Franklin and what is its agenda?

Journalist Kicked out of ALEC Conference, Threatened With Arrest

In late July, shortly after the launch of, Lousiana State Rep.Noble Ellington, a Republican from the state's 20th district and the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, spoke to NPR about the recent spate of criticism leveled at his organization. When discussing the behind-closed-doors process used to craft ALEC model legislation, Ellington dismissed concerns raised by NPR, assuring interviewer Terry Gross that the public "have an opportunity to talk to their legislators about the legislation -- so I don't see how you can get more transparent than that."

Rupert Murdoch's Big Newspaper Scandal

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch moved quickly to shut down one of his oldest media holdings -- a 168 year-old, best-selling weekly British tabloid newspaper called News of the World -- amid charges that the paper's journalists hacked into the telephones of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, murder victims and their families, and bribed police in exchange for information and tips. News of the World was Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper. Its last issue will be this Sunday, and will not carry any commercial advertisements.

Murdoch dumped the paper at the same time his media empire, News Corp., is trying to win U.K. government approval to take over British Sky Broadcasting Group. News Corp bid US$12.5 billion for the British Sky Broadcasting, but the government has received more than 135,000 comments protesting the acquisition.

CMD at Netroots Nation, June 16-19, Minneapolis, MN

Netroots Nation speakerbadgeCenter for Media and Democracy's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, the Director of our Real Economy Project, Mary Bottari, and Senior Fellow on Health Care, Wendell Potter, will be speaking at this year's Netroots Nation convention. The conference will take place from June 16-19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Further details and the agenda click here. Stop by the CMD table at the Exhibition Hall and sign up for our IPad 2 raffle. For the very lucky, there may even be cheese curds!

Skin Care Company Tries to Get "Newsvertising"

Handing moneyA skin care company that claims to have a cure for acne, psoriasis, folliculitis and other disorders is contacting Virginia media outlets and offering to pay them $100 for each person who sees the company's press release and signs up to get treatment. The company asks editors to "consider running our press release as a win-win project." The only problem? Taking kickbacks violates the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which dictates that journalists should "refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment ..." and "be wary of sources offering information for favors or money." One editor who noted the corrupting significance of the company's bird-dogging offer to media outlets forwarded the release to the Poynter Institute, a school whose mission is to "ensure that Americans have access to excellent journalism" and to help Americans understand how to tell which journalism is credible. The Institute posted a blog alerting the public to the press release.


New York Times Retracts Information on Front Page Story Implying Union Support for Walker

On February 21, the New York Times created a stir in Wisconsin by printing a front page article giving the impression that union families supported Governor Scott Walker's attempt to remove collective bargaining rights from workers. On February 26, The Times retracted information related to this article.

The lead of the story, entitled "Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray", featured a former Janesville General Motors employee Rich Hahn, who was characterized as "...a man who has worked at unionized factories, [and] a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker's sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers." In the story reporters A.G. Sulzberger — said to be the son of New York Times Co. Chairman of the Board Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.— and Monica Davey spend very little time quoting Hahn but a lot of time characterizing him. "He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations," the story says of Hahn.

Who Is Writing the AP's Headlines on the Protests -- the GOP?

APMadison, Wisconsin -- The Associated Press (AP) has been covering the Wisconsin protests this past week, in a way.

With the wave of cutbacks at papers across the nation, big and small circulation papers rely on the AP for wire stories that are re-published in local papers. It describes itself as "the largest newsgathering organization" in the world. With few national outlets having reporters located in Madison or Wisconsin, the AP is a dominant vehicle for sharing information about what is happening in the state with the rest of nation. The AP is also the dominant news feeder for Yahoo News, and Yahoo is now one of the top five most-trafficked websites in the world. So it matters whether the AP is fairly covering the news, in the headlines and in the bodies of its stories. (The Center for Media and Democracy is on record as a strong critic of corporate media, like the AP.)

Awful PR for the Public Relations Society of America

High Road, Low Road signJack O'Dwyer, who publishes a newsletter that follows the public relations industry, reports that he and his staffers were blocked from entering an assembly of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). PRSA officials demanded O'Dwyer pay $3,825 in registration fees to enter and report on the conference, while journalists from similar organizations, like PR News and PR Newser, were let in free. Arthur Yann, PRSA's Vice President of Public Relations, said that O'Dwyer and his staffers had to pay because people from  O'Dwyer's newsletter "attended last year's conference but never wrote about it." But O'Dwyer did in fact write about the 2009 conference. O'Dwyer also reports other harassment while attempting to attend the conference, like getting an anonymous letter in which the writer threatened to beat him "to a pulp," and being set upon by a flash-mob while he was conducting an interview. O'Dwyer has criticized PRSA for withholding transcripts of their organizational assemblies over the last five years, concealing the names of their delegates and refusing to make available a PDF version of their members' directory. O'Dwyer has also exposed techniques now in wide use by big PR firms that violate PR ethics, like working through front groups and creating and disseminating fake news.



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