Mission & Vision
The Franklin Center supports and trains investigative journalists to advance transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in local government, and to spotlight free-market, pro-liberty solutions to difficult public policy challenges.
We operate by shining the bright light of transparency into government’s darkest corners. We expose the truth about government mismanagement and overreach. Then we offer a megaphone to those with the best free-market, pro-liberty solutions.
Our competitive advantage in moving the needle is our position in the states as a media outlet trusted by all sides of the debate. We’re able to communicate directly to the persuadable middle, reaching audiences not normally receptive to the case for these ideas. Our reporting shapes narratives, drives conversations, and lays the foundation for long-term change. We translate theoretical policy into layman’s terms and put a human face on the issues.
Why We’re Here
Hundreds, if not thousands of reporters cover Congress, the presidency, and the ups and downs of national politics. However, there are 87,576 units of state and local government in the United States, all with powers to regulate, tax, and spend – and they spend a combined $3 trillion annually. Yet frequently, state and local governments are allowed to exercise these powers without more than vague, cursory oversight from the media.
Citizens need to look no further than the rise of online advertising to understand why journalism and the nation have suffered this casualty. Once, classified ads brought in 40% of an average newspaper’s profits, but free online advertising has destroyed that revenue stream. Newspaper classifieds will produce less than a third of the revenues this than they produced in 2000. Newspaper profits will be 43 percent less now than in 2005.
To fill this void, newspapers have gone on an unprecedented cost-cutting binge, laying-off one third of their reporters since 2005 and reducing state and local reporting output by 80 percent since 2000. Legacy media outlets have begun to share production costs with competitors, consolidate departments, and slash travel budgets. Cash-strapped and under-staffed, local and regional newspapers often can’t provide the real information that voters need to make good decisions.
Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade and publisher of one the United States’ most prominent early newspapers, once said, “a newspaper in every house… [is] the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.” Today, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity carries on that legacy, animated by the belief that voters need real information to make informed decisions about their government – and that the American public simply does not have enough.