Press Releases

Franklin Center Names Erik Telford President

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

“The Franklin Center has enjoyed much success in recent years, but with Erik now taking charge of a great team, we are convinced that its best and most influential days lie ahead.”

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, publisher of Watchdog.org, has named Erik Telford as president, following a vote of the board of directors. Telford joined the organization in 2011, having previously served as Senior Vice President. Erik is a leading digital strategist, and has been recognized as a “Rising Star in American Politics” by Campaigns & Elections, as well as one of the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics” by Politics Online. A native of Connecticut, he holds a B.A. in Political Science and American Studies and an M.A. in Political Management, both from The George Washington University.

The Franklin Center was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state and local government. In addition to operating the Watchdog.org network of state-based investigative and political reporters, the organization provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of allied reporters and affiliate news operations.

“We are proud to announce that Erik Telford is the new president of the Franklin Center,” said Franklin Center Chairman of the Board John Miller. “Under his leadership, the Franklin Center and its Watchdog.org websites will strive to keep citizens informed about their state and local governments at a time when the mainstream media continues to abandon its coverage. The Franklin Center has enjoyed much success in recent years, but with Erik now taking charge of a great team, we are convinced that its best and most influential days lie ahead.”

Jack Fowler, Publisher of National Review and Franklin Center board member, said, “Erik is one of the top exceptional young talents in the pro-freedom movement. He is skilled, honest, wise, diplomatic, has a vision, has a winning personality — all of which, when combined, make for a great leader. And that is what Franklin and Watchdog now have at its helm.  The board is excited to have this unique individual fulfill and expand Franklin’s important mission.”

Prior to joining the Franklin Center, Telford served as Director of Membership & Online Strategy at Americans for Prosperity, and is the founder of AFP Foundation’s RightOnline Conference, an event which brings together industry leaders in the fields of new media, information technology and advocacy communications.

“The Franklin Center’s mission to deliver political and investigative journalism in state capitals across the country has never been more important. I am honored and humbled that the board has given me the opportunity to lead this tremendous organization. I look forward to working with the board, the Franklin Center staff, and our Watchdog.org journalists to ensure that policymakers are held accountable to the voters, taxpayers, and citizens that they serve,” said Franklin Center President Telford.

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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

http://franklincenterhq.org/about/mission

Watchdog.org’s Virginia bureau takes home 7 statewide awards

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Date: April 20, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Watchdog.org’s Virginia bureau built upon last year’s successes to take home four first-place awards and three second-place awards in the Virginia Press Association’s 2014 News/Editorial and Advertising Contest.

Investigative reporter Kathryn Watson earned four first-place awards in the categories of in-depth or investigative reporting; education writing; health, science and environmental writing; and public safety writing. She also took home a second-place award for government writing.

Virginia bureau chief and national correspondent Kenric Ward earned two second-place awards in the categories of health, science and environmental writing; and in-depth or investigative reporting.

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition, but it’s even more of an honor to get to tell stories that matter,” said Watson. “Whether it’s the Navy veteran dad who can work again because of a story I wrote, or watching Congress end federal funding for automatic license plate readers after many stories like mine were published, it’s a privilege to tell meaningful stories that make a difference in people’s lives.”

Watson’s winter 2014 investigative series revealed serious flaws in accountability and auditing capabilities for welfare dollars in Virginia, and her stories on local police use of automatic license plate readers gained attention from coast to coast.

Ward’s reporting on a new gas pipeline coming to Virginia raised important questions about eminent domain and property rights, and his stories on duplicate voters in Virginia spurred other stories and editorials across the commonwealth.

“Watchdog’s in-depth and investigative reporting is flipping the narrative in Virginia. ‘News’ isn’t about propping up the political and bureaucratic status-quo, it’s about exposing the waste of tax dollars and the abuse of taxpayers,” said bureau chief Kenric Ward. “We’re pleased that the judges honored this distinction in bestowing these awards.”

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Erik Telford responds to the FCC’s Net Neutrality ruling

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

February 26, 2015
Contact: Breyana Franklin
breyana.franklin@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-2926

Alexandria, VA — I’m disappointed to hear about the FCC’s decision today to achieve so-called net neutrality by regulating the Internet as a Title II public utility. The FCC’s party line vote mirrors President Obama’s proposal, reflecting blatant partisanship and making eleventh hour revisions to gratify the wishes of special interest groups such as Google and Free Press. This type of policymaking fails to provide a comprehensive road map for the online space that aims for the best interests of both businesses and consumers. Rather than follow the spirit of the federal court ruling that made this decision necessary in the first place, it uses a back door through a Great Depression-era law to subvert the court’s ruling and bring the Internet under an unprecedented level of government control.

Under the guise of openness and fairness, this decision to subject the Internet to stifling new regulations and government scrutiny will result in greater costs for broadband consumers, harm investment, and hamper technological innovation. I hope the FCC will choose to release its entire plan to the public immediately. And I call on those who support a truly free Internet to continue advocating for the principles of liberty to be applied in the online space in order to ensure a better future for us all.

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Franklin Center statement on terrorist attack in Paris

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

January 7, 2015
Contact: Michael Moroney
michael.moroney@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-0774

Alexandria, VA — In response to the senseless murder of 12 people in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Jason Stverak president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity released the following statement:

“This morning the world awoke to the horrific news that Islamic extremists stormed the offices of the French publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, murdering at least 12 people. This heinous act was an assault on the freedom of the press – an attack on free people and the values western civilization cherish deeply.

This senseless, inhumane act will not prevent journalists who understand the significance of a free press to a free society. The journalists at Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity stand with our colleagues in Paris and the people of France. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

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Jason Stverak speaks out against Sen. Marsh’s attempt to define journalists

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

December 9, 2014
Contact: Michael Moroney
michael.moroney@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-0774

Alexandria, Virginia — Alabama State Senator Adelbert Marsh has come out in support of defining which journalists and news organizations should be credentialed to cover the state legislature. In response to his editorial posted in the Montgomery Adviser, Jason Stverak president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, has released the following statement:

“As the president of a national news organization – and an advocate of a free press – I strongly oppose Alabama State Senator Adelbert Marsh’s scheme to determine which news outlets and reporters should be credentialed to cover the legislature from the press rooms.

It’s ironic that Sen. Marsh would seek to address the very real problem of misinformation by suppressing new-media press organizations.

There’s also irony in the fact that the senator’s initiative comes at a time when news outlets around the country are allocating fewer resources to critical statehouse coverage. Journalists from nontraditional news outlets – like those supported by the Franklin Center – who wish to keep the public informed should be granted the unimpeded access already granted their counterparts in legacy media organizations.

Defining who is and isn’t a “journalist” leads to the creation of arbitrary barriers and limits press freedom. It also raises serious constitutional, political and ethical questions: Who gets to create that definition? What narrow political forces help shape their decision-making?

I hope Sen. Marsh will reconsider his plan and work toward a more powerful, more truly American goal: lower the barriers to all journalists so that we may hold government accountable. We need more people covering our state legislatures – not reporters licensed by the people they cover.”

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

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Remembering Ben Bradlee

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

By Jason Stverak

Credit: The Washington Post

Credit: The Washington Post

It’s impossible to look back to the golden age of newspaper journalism without thinking of Ben Bradlee – the tenacious editor of the Washington Post who guided the paper through Watergate and made it one of the nation’s premier news sources. His instinct for quality news and ethics were unmatched. But more important than that, he had the unbridled enthusiasm and wit that makes this industry a joy to work in. He understood that for reporters to tell good stories they had to have some fun. Journalists everywhere – regardless of the publication they write for – are deeply indebted to his legacy and mourn his passing.

 

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.
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Watchdog.org’s Texas Bureau in Print

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

October 8, 2014
Contact: Michael Moroney
Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org
571-385-0774

Houston, Texas — This week,  Watchdog.org’s Texas Bureau is excited to announce a new initiative to distribute some of our best investigative content in print straight to Texans’ doorsteps. Over the past year, Watchdog.org reporter Jon Cassidy has worked feverishly to uncover a Texas-sized scandal between lawmakers and officials at the state’s flagship university. With the launch of Watchdog.org’s print initiative, we’ll deliver readers highlights from Cassidy’s investigative series, Trouble in Texas, exposing government abuse in the Lone Star State.

Even in the digital age, there’s still a desire and need for investigative, honest print journalism—we believe stepping into this medium will help us keep thousands more informed about what their government officials are up to.

Click here to get a copy of the Watchdog Newspaper delivered to your home!

Early this month, Watchdog announced it’s new Watchdog Radio, an ambitious new project that will bring our top-notch statehouse journalism to listeners all over the country, and Watchdog Opinion, a new online hub for top newsmakers, analysts, economists, and policy makers to join the debate and make their voice heard.

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

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Watchdog.org Launches Ambitious New National Radio Initiative

Monday, September 29th, 2014

September 29, 2014
Contact: Breyana Franklin
571-384-2090
bfranklin@watchdog.org

Watchdog.org Launches Ambitious New National Radio Initiative

Alexandria, VA — Today, Watchdog.org, a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, launched Watchdog Radio, an ambitious new broadcast initiative at the state and national level, that aims to replicate the success of Watchdog.org’s online reporting. Illinois Watchdog Radio and National Watchdog Radio will provide content for radio stations of all sizes throughout The Prairie State and across the country.

“Watchdog Radio is a chance for us to connect with a wider audience and bring them news stories that are impacting communities all over the country,” said Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. “It is our goal to discuss the issues that others don’t and keep Americans informed on waste, fraud and abuse at every level of government.”

National Watchdog Radio will syndicate on weekends, hosted by Watchdog.org reporters Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle. The two-hour show that will focus on state and local governments across the states, as well as larger national trends. Kathryn Watson of Watchdog.org’s Washington D.C. Bureau will discuss the most interesting stories of the week from Watchdog.org.

“There are a lot of local radio shows that talk about city council, and plenty of national shows that talk about President Obama,” Watchdog Radio Host Matt Kittle said. “But no one else is focusing on state government, and how the policies impact everything from local schools to the price of groceries. Watchdog Radio fills that gap. I am excited to have that conversation with people everyday.”

Illinois Watchdog Radio will air Monday-Friday from 9am-11am CST. Benjamin Yount, Illinois Watchdog reporter and 10 year Illinois Capitol veteran, will serve as the host. The show will stream live here and will also be heard on stations across the state.

“The closer government is to you, the faster it will impact your life,” Illinois Watchdog Radio Host Benjamin Yount said. “Lawmakers in Springfield may seem far away from someone in northern Illinois or somebody downstate, but the reality is that state government has much more of an everyday impact on people’s lives than Congress. That’s why, everyday, we need to have a conversation about what’s going on at the statehouse.”

For more information, please contact Breyana Franklin at bfranklin@Watchdog.org

 

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

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Remembering 9/11

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

By Jason Stverak911Anniversary

It’s still painful to recall the horror from thirteen years ago. We saw evil that day, but we were not destroyed, and we did not despair. On the contrary, many acted heroically and selflessly to rescue those in harm’s way. America rallied around our devastated brothers and sisters, we stood united as a country, and we still stand united in remembrance of the tragedy we witnessed. Our response was and is a testament to how strong we are together as a nation. 

The lessons from September 11th, 2001 stay with us to this day–that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction, that life is precious, that every day is a gift, and that we each have a responsibility to steward the freedoms of this life we’ve been given. Let us remember the tragedy of the past today, and let it spur us on to create a brighter future for this great nation we all know and love.

Franklin Center Statement on Steven Sotloff

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

September 2, 2014
Contact: Michael Moroney 571-385-0774
Michael.moroney@franklincenterhq.org

Photo Credit: Daily Caller

Photo Credit: Daily Caller

Alexandria, VA — Today, Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity released the following statement on Steven Sotloff:

“Today, we’re reminded anew that those who work tirelessly to bring us the news from devastated war-zones are true heroes. A year after Steven Sotloff was kidnapped by the militant group Islamic State while reporting in Syria, he was executed for his commitment to the truth in a land that so desperately needs it.

“It takes unspeakable courage to come face to face with evil with little more than a notepad in hand, undeterred and resolved to tell the story any cost. Steven put his life on the line so that the world could see the horrors of oppression and the suffering of the voiceless, and we honor his sacrifice.”

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

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