Author Archive

RedAlert Politics: Franklin Center Fuels Rise of Citizen Journalism

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The following was originally published on RedAlert Politics. Franklin Center thanks them for featuring our Citizen Watchdog training work and our professional journalism network.

By  | RedAlert Politics – March 28, 2012

In July 2009, Business Insider reported that 105 newspapers had closed in the first six months of the year, in an article with the headline, “The Year The Newspaper Died.” Fortunately, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was founded the same year. 

The Franklin Center is a non-profit designed to work with non-traditional news sources like non-profit journalism groups, independent activists and bloggers to help fill the gap of shrinking media covering state capitols. The center first made a splash with the uncovering of “phantom congressional districts” in November of that year.

Franklin has been growing ever since, continually expanding their influence and aid to non-traditional media. At the helm is Jason Stverak, who has served as president since its founding. He came from the Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring and encouraging grassroots activism. Interestingly, the Alliance’s namesake was a newspaperman as well. Adams was responsible for the Committees of Correspondence and a newspaper publisher in Boston in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War.

At the Franklin Center, Stverak’s background of grassroots activism is applied to the newsroom. In accordance with Ben Franklin’s credo – no one’s liberty or property is secure when the legislature is in session – the center equips journalists from over 50 organizations nationwide to uncover government corruption on the state and local level, preparing them to dig deep and bring to light abuses within the system. “The media doesn’t have the time to pursue these long-term stories on the government,” Stverak said. Groups like the Michigan nonprofit Mackinac Center for Public Policy do though, and its extensive reporting on the SEIU recently proves it.

Stverak attributes this as a key reason for the Franklin Center’s success. “I’ll be honest, it’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s about providing a product that people need. They want and desire … quality journalism.” He noted that while Americans used to be able to depend on their local news outlets, today those outlets are unable to provide the consistent in-depth coverage and reporting needed to keep government accountable. “[W]hen they don’t get that information anymore they go looking for sources that will provide that for them. And that’s the roll that we at the Franklin Center … have been providing for them,” he said.


Social Media Pet Peeves

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

With the popularization of #FirstWorldProblems, I’ve realized I have less and less to whine about with sincerity.

Going bananas. Punny?

However, if you sat around all day scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, and MySpace (just kidding) as I do, you would rack up a hefty list of complaints. The whole world can’t be perfect, but maybe spreading this list, I can make a small contribution to the efficiency of social media. In no particular order:

Auto DMs  and Mentions – It’s great to thank people for following you, but if you’re going to do it, do it. Don’t let a computer do it for you. Mention something personal you see in their bio so they know you’re a real, live person. People like live people.

Keeping the link in your Facebook posts – The Facebook version of leaving the seat up or dishes in the sink. It looks so much cleaner when you let the wonder of Facebook coding supply the attractive picture and excerpt and delete your link. Just wait for the custom box show up and then delete, delete, delete. Of course, if you want the Hootsuite URL and you have to schedule a post, you’ll have to leave the link in there. However, please, if you can, erase the links!

No engagement – You may find your local government agency is on Twitter and celebrate with a Tiger sky-lawnmower-pull. YES! Transparency! Alas, you later find that it’s just an RSS feed and no human being filters through the mentions, no matter how many times you try to bug them about why your car got towed in a non-street cleaning area… Engage with your followers. This is the point of social media.


First GOP Senate Debate Set For April 11

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Monday, March 19th, 2012

Originally published on

By Don Walker | Journal Sentinel

MADISON — What is believed to be the first GOP U.S. Senate debate will be held on April 11 in Waukesha.

The event will be hosted by Wisconsin Reporter, a Madison-based statehouse news organization supported by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

The group said Republican candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Mark Neumann, Eric Hovde and Kip Smith, a Rhinelander physical therapist who recently entered the race, had committed to the event. Tommy Thompson has been invited.

The event will take place at the Waukesha County Exposition Center beginning at 7 p.m.

The public is invited, but must register at this site.

The Senate seat is open because U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is retiring. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is the lone Democrat in the race.

Read it on

Twitter IS the Real World

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Twitter is every airport, casino, and high school football game you’ve ever visited.

When Sarah stands in line for a breakfast sandwich in the Atlanta airport, she overhears the couple in front of her discussing a recent Florida cruise. When Kevin sits at the black jack tables, he cajoles with the table buddies — perfect strangers, yet short-term friends — and chats with the dealer. At Amy’s son’s football game, she gets the scoop from other parents about how the athletic director is handling the program and what can be done about it.

Picture this when someone says they tweet

We live our lives in constant communication with others, as we have for thousands of years. The beginning of history and the written word have brought us to Twitter. It’s time to realize that the social media giant didn’t change our communication practices that much.


Citizen Outreach Intern

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Friday, March 9th, 2012

Citizen Outreach Intern in Alexandria, Virginia

Franklin Center is seeking a highly motivated intern to join its citizen outreach team as we plan and facilitate over two dozen journalism training sessions during the summer of 2012.  Applicants should be interested or majoring in journalism, mass media, public relations, or grassroots activism. Applicants should be able to manage multiple tasks at once, take ownership when managing a project, and identify new opportunities for recruitment and training. He or she should be organized and demonstrate strong problem solving skills.

Intern responsibilities and tasks include the following:

  • Execute online research relevant to Citizen Watchdog training initiative. This will include identification of and outreach to existing citizen journalists and bloggers, research for event venues, etc.
  • Provide administrative support relating to development and production of training materials, event organization and promotion, and general program operations
  • Monitor and manage program website and assist with social media presence
  • Manage database to track and cultivate allies and program participants, execute follow-up communications and surveys

About the Citizen Journalism program:

To apply, please send resume to Mary Ellen Beatty at

BigGovernment features Mackinac investigation

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Michigan Senate Republicans allow SEIU to bully home caregivers

By Ben Shapiro | Mackinac Center | Published at

Michigan Republicans are backing the SEIU’s bilking of parents of disabled children. And they’re getting paid to do it.

Here’s the whole story: In Michigan, many disabled people receive public subsidies, which they can then use to hire caretakers. Very often, those disabled people are cared for by their parents, who use the subsidies to ensure proper care for their children.

Thanks to former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D), back in 2005, the SEIU was able to rope these caretakers into a union in an unpublicized election in which 80 percent of the caretakers didn’t vote. But, you say, these people weren’t government employees. Why would they need a union? The answer is simple: they don’t. The SEIU simply wanted to unionize these folks to allow them to extract forced dues. Those dues are skimmed off of Medicaid payments, and handed over to the union. The result: $29 million poured into the SEIU’s coffers since 2007.

What do these caretakers get in return for being unionized? Virtually nothing.  Instead, as the following video shows, caretakers just get paid less:


The exclusive video from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy tells the story of Robert and Patricia Haynes, a couple who care for their severely disabled adult kids. As you’ll see, the SEIU’s unionization scheme has had serious effects on their ability to take care of those children.

Continue Reading at…

Franklin Center Presents: BlogCon 2012

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Thursday, March 8th, 2012

BlogCon is coming to Charlotte!

Franklin Center and FreedomWorks have joined forces to bring BlogCon to Charlotte, North Carolina under the production of Franklin Center New Media Director Tabitha Hale.


Bloomberg features Op-Ed from Franklin Center Journalism VP

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Originally published at

If Stockton Is Broke, Then Why Isn’t San Diego?

By Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO — Stockton, California, which is heading toward the first steps of Chapter 9 bankruptcy, is described as a crime-racked wretch designated by Forbes magazine as the most miserable city in America.

But it would be wrong to believe that the troubles in the city of almost 300,000 residents in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley are not necessarily a sign of things to come in more upscale municipalities across the state.

Unfortunately, the financial mess in Stockton echoes problems throughout California, even though public-sector union leaders and Democratic state legislators are in denial about this reality. In cities as affluent and diverse as San Jose and San Diego, municipal finances are hitting the wall, driven by unsustainable pension debt and health-care promises made to government workers during more flush economic times.

Stockton has not been a prime location since the Gold Rush, but only a few years ago it was a reasonable destination for commuters who couldn’t swing the prices in San Francisco, about 80 miles west. Now the murder rate is at record highs, and the police union is in a pitched battle with the new city manager. The debt-laden downtown redevelopment area looks like a ghost town, and the city is littered with foreclosed properties.

Stockton is also in the news as the test case for a new state law intended to put the brakes on municipal bankruptcy. It’s a reminder not just of how far and fast a city can fall, but also of problems that are festering everywhere.

 Continue Reading at Bloomberg…

Heritage: Franklin Center Remembers ‘Warrior’ Andrew Breitbart

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

By Lachlen Markay | Heritage Foundation

WASHINGTON, DC — The state-based journalism organization the Franklin Center on Thursday released its own tribute to the late conservative activist and new media pioneer Andrew Breitbart.

The video, titled “Warrior,” gathers some of Breitbart’s more powerful moments, including a clip from an interviewwith our own Rob Bluey.

Heritage President Ed Feulner remembered Breitbart in a post of his own yesterday. “We all mourn Andrew today, but we can’t allow our sorrow to consume us,” Feulner wrote. “The challenge for us, for all conservatives, is to react to today’s sad event by following his example, by picking up the sword that lies on the ground before us.”

Other Heritage staffers also shared their memories of Andrew, and discussed his impact on them personally and on the conservative movement.

We all mourn the loss of a truly great man and an inspirational figure. Our deepest condolences go out to Andrew’s wife and his four children.

Continue Reading at…

Citizen Watchdog sells out NC, keynote speaker a hit

By (@ElizabethFCHQ)
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

About 500 attended Conservative Leadership Conference: Battleground North Carolina.

Keynote Speaker, Charles Krauthammer

“It was a sold out conference attended by North Carolinians who were very eager to learn how they can play a larger role in the political process,” Franklin Center Coalitions Coordinator Alicia Barnaby said.

“Whether it be in their local communities or a tea party group they may be involved with, these citizens were some of the most engaged and knowledgeable about state issues that I have seen. Charles Krauthammer’s keynote speech at the Friday evening dinner was also a big hit amongst attendees. Overall, a great event by the Civitas Institute of NC.”

Civitas did a great job with this,” New Media Director Tabitha Hale said. “Krauthammer was amazing.”

About the program:

“The Conservative Leadership Conference is desigend to energize, train, and equip citizens and leaders in our state. North Carolina will be a battleground state like never before.  We face battles in local elections, a constitutional amendment, and races for Governor, the NC General Assembly and U.S. Congress. This Conference will train, prepare, and motivate the citziens of North Carollina. We have speakers and trainers from Heritage and Heritage Action, American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Civitas, Franklin Center, and Texas Watchdog, along with radio personalities from teh local and naional level.”-CLC

Click here for more information on the Citizen Watchdog program.