Statehouse News Online
|Headquarters||Alexandria, Virginia & Bismarck, North Dakota, United States|
|Alexa rank||4,012,195 (November 2013[update])|
|Type of site||News & Investigative Journalism|
Statehouse News Online, is a network of state-based news organizations that cover state-specific and local government. The organization website serves as a news aggregator for over forty news organizations that provide in-depth coverage of state legislation, budgets, local political interests and campaign news. The Statehouse News Online program began in June 2010, as a project of the non-profit news organization, Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.
Statehouse News Online affiliates
Statehouse News Online affiliates consists of journalists serving state-based news groups reporting on state and local government.
- Virginia Statehouse News
- Illinois Statehouse News
- Wisconsin Reporter
- Pennsylvania Independent
- Hawaii Reporter
Sharing news and investigations
Statehouse News and their affiliates encourage news broadcasters, media organizations & citizen journalists to “steal our stuff.” Part of the organization’s mission is to provide news stories from state capitals and local governments that can be published and sourced by journalists and news organization that may not be affiliated with Statehouse News. The organization does request that media outlets properly credit them for the stories being republished, broadcast and or sourced.
Statehouse News Online sponsor organization, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity promotes itself as an advocacy group for “transparency in government.” They believe this can be accomplished through use of new technology, often referred to as “new media.” Statehouse News and Franklin Center believes that journalists must master new media and as an organization offers in-depth training and education to individuals and organizations interested in learning new media techniques.
Some of the courses offered by the organization include Computer Assisted Reporting and Watchdog Workshops. The Franklin Center website offers internet links to numerous online resources and strongly advocates through their mission statement that these course and tools be used by “unbiased and accurate reporters.”
Wisconsin Reporter poll controversy
On February 21, 2011, Statehouse News Online affiliate, Wisconsin Reporter (www.wisconsinreporter.com), sponsored a poll to determine public opinion about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker $137 million budget repair bill, which included legislation requiring union workers to contribute more to their health care and pensions, as well as take aware their collective bargaining rights. When the results were released on February 24, 2011, it revealed that Wisconsin residents were evenly split on their support for the governor’s proposal and the union workers protesting the legislation. Controversy erupted over a finding that 71% of the public supported legislation requiring union workers to pay 5.8% of their salary toward the cost of their pensions plans and double their contributions for health care premiums to 12.6%. The results of this poll, especially the majority of Wisconsinites agreeing with legislation requiring workers to increase their contributions, came under great scrutiny by pro-union bloggers and political pundits.
Wisconsin Reporter and their sponsoring organization, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, were being portrayed as unreliable sources by some new media and left-leaning political sources. These groups argued that the poll was unreliable because Franklin Center was founded by a “former Republican operative” and that the group had ties to openly pro-Walker organizations.
Wisconsin democratic party controversy
On August 5, 2011, Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski sent an email to Wisconsin Reporter, to express his disapproval of an article published by the organization. The controversy began when Zielinski was quoted in an article saying that Wisconsin’s neighbor to the south, Illinois, was outpacing Wisconsin’s economy. He referred to Gov. Scott Walker’s claim in a recent interview with the Heritage Foundation of economic victory as “right-wing fantasy, a total lie.” Wisconsin Reporter included in the article U.S. Department of Labor statistics showing Wisconsin’s economy creating 9,500 jobs in June, and Illinois lost 18,900 jobs the same month.
In the email, which was sent directly to Bureau Chief Matt Kittle, Zielinski said the publication is a “shill for the Republican Party and isn’t balanced in its news coverage.” Zielinski's email contained language that Wisconsin Reporter perceived as threatening.
What happens next is that I contact the publishers and editors of the papers that publish you as ‘unbiased,’ and let them know our deep concern about the obvious bias that permeates your entire operation. Then, we let our activists know which papers publish you, and they write the publisher and editor. Then, we contact the Capitol press pool and let them know about our concerns about your credentialing. And we continue on until you actually admit to the truth of your operation. What is the truth of the operation?
Statehouse News Online parent organization, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity responded to the email with a statement condemning Zielinski's comments and demanded an apology from the Wisconsin Democratic Party for what was called "baseless threats."
2012 Presidential candidate series
On May 10, 2011, journalist Lynn Campbell of IowaPolitics.com, an affiliate of Stathouse News Online, was named moderator for the 2012 Presidential Candidate Series. The series of forums takes place in Des Moines, Iowa, the first state to hold a presidential caucus. The first forum featured former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and took place on May 27, 2011 at the State Historical Building in downtown Des Moines. Romney opened the event with a 20 minute statement and then answered questions by moderator Lynn Campbell. Approximately 200 Iowans attended the forum that was interrupted and cut short by a fire alarm set off by burnt popcorn in a microwave oven.
The second forum was scheduled for July 28, 2011 with Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter. However, McCotter's appearance was postponed indefinitely due to obligations in Washington. Presidential candidate Herman Cain was the second candidate to attend the series. He spoke on August 4, 2011. Jobs and the economy dominated Cain's speech as well as personal experience regarding race in America. Both McCotter and Cain dropped out of the Presidential race before the Caucus took place.
This series was being sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Mediacom and IowaPolitics.com and in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The Iowa caucuses took place on January 3, 2012. Mitt Romney won the Caucus by a mere eight votes over former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Standards and practices
Donations: The organization's sponsor, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, does not disclose donor information. According to the organization website, "The Franklin Center protects the identification of its generous donors and ensures anonymity of all contributions.”
- Statehouse News Online
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity website
- Society of Professional Journalists
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