Press Releases

Watchdog.org Takes Home Six Awards at the Virginia Press Association’s Annual Conference

Monday, April 7th, 2014

April 7, 2014
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
Press Contact; Michael Moroney
Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org

Watchdog.org Takes Home Six Awards at the Virginia Press Association’s Annual Conference

Alexandria, Va.– Two reporters from Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau won six awards–including two for first place–in the 2013 News/Editorial and Advertising Contest for the Virginia Press Association (VPA) on Saturday.

Watchdog reporter Katie Watson earned a “Best in Show” for her series on the lack of government transparency surrounding the Gov. Bob McDonnell scandal.

“Our Virginia Bureau does phenomenal work every day,” said Will Swaim, editor of Watchdog.org. “The Virginia Press Association is very prestigious, and it’s encouraging to see our reporters recognized for their efforts.”

In awarding her “Best in Show,” a judge commended Watson’s “good, solid writing on a story with national implications.”

“One of the things that set this entry apart is that the writer managed to tell each episode of the story in few enough words that readers could stay engaged until the end,” the judge concluded. “Just because there is unlimited online space does not mean a reporter should try to fill it all. The writing is tight, the reporting thorough.”

Watson also received first place in “General News Writing” for her series of stories on the scandal over Gov. McDonnell’s lack of transparency as he billed taxpayers for his legal fees. Watson also won first place in “Business and Financial Writing” for stories on state pension and budget woes, and won second place in “Government Writing.”

“Transparency for the taxpaying public is what my work and our work at Watchdog.org is all about,” said Watson. “Receiving these awards from the Virginia Press Association is definitely an honor, but so is getting to report on government waste, fraud and abuse—what’s wrong with the status quo—for Virginians every single day.”

Kenric Ward, Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau Chief, received second place in the “Public Safety” category for his extensive investigations into government involvement in the drone industry. He also received third place in the “Government” category.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for my investigative work,” said Ward. “It’s important that the public hear these stories, as well as the rest of the journalism community. Hopefully this award will bring attention to them.”

Watchdog.org competed in the online journalism division. The awards were announced and given out at the VPA’s annual conference and awards ceremony.

“I’m very proud of Kenric and Katie, and I couldn’t be happier that the Virginia Press Association is recognizing their work,” said Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center. “Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau is successfully providing deep investigative journalism, fighting for transparency, and holding government officials accountable.”

The VPA, which was incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly in 1881, is the premier media association for journalists in the Old Dominion. The winners of the contest are chosen by journalists from media associations in other states.

For media inquires, contact Michael Moroney at Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org.

The Franklin Center for Government and 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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Franklin Center Launches Blogger Fellowship Program

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

April 1, 2014
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
Press Contact: Michael Moroney
Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org

Franklin Center Launches Blogger Fellowship Program

Alexandria, Va.—Today, the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity launched its Blogger Fellowship initiative, a six-month blogging and social media program. Each blogger accepted will write posts on subjects related to government inefficiency and corruption. Additionally, they will promote their work via a variety of new media tools, including YouTube, Twitter, and Google Hangouts. The Franklin Center will assist each blogger in promoting his or her work through podcasts, radio, or TV interviews.

“We’ve created the fellowship to train and highlight promising individuals who have a background in investigative journalism, said Franklin Center Senior Vice President Erik Telford. “The program will help them build external capacities and learn the art of distributing and promoting their work in the world of new media.”

 

The inaugural fellows for the program will be Ben Howe and Amelia Hamilton. Howe is the director of the recent documentary Bankrupt: How Cronyism and Corruption Took Down Detroit and founder of Mister Smith Media. He will cover the Detroit bailout and bankruptcy, and report on the policies and politics that are contributing to its fiscal crisis. He’ll also cover other cities across the United States going down the same path as Detroit, and investigate the causes of mass population exodus in other regions of the country.

“This program is a great opportunity for bloggers interested in investigative work like me,” said Howe. “I’m glad to have the Franklin Center supporting me and promoting my work as I continue to cover the devastating effects of cronyism and corruption on cities like Detroit.”

Hamilton is the author of the children’s books One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots and Ten Steps to Freedom: A Growing Patriot’s Guide to the American Revolution, and holds a master’s degree in both English and 18th-century history from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

“I’m honored to be one of Franklin Center’s inaugural blogger fellows.” said Hamilton. “I’ve always been passionate about writing and showing how policies affect real people and, through this program, I’m hoping to take my work to the next level.”

“We’re very excited to have Ben and Amelia as our first blogger fellows,” said Telford. “Their work on a variety of important issues is just the kind of journalism this country needs, and we look forward to helping them take it to the next level.”

For media inquiries, contact Michael Moroney at Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org.

The Franklin Center for Government and 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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Franklin Center Statement on Flawed Media Shield Law

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Date: March 27, 2014
Press Contact: Michael Moroney
Office: 571-385-0774
Michael.moroney@franklincenterhq.org

Franklin Center Statement on Flawed Media Shield Law

Alexandria, VA — Today, Franklin Center president Jason Stverak made the following statement in response to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) deeply flawed Media Shield Law, S. 987: The Free Flow of Information Act.

“As encouraging as it was to see Congress take up the cause of protecting journalists, I’m incredibly disappointed by news that the Senate may pass such a weak and ineffectual law. S. 987 would erect artificial divides between the diverse network of journalists who serve their communities, shielding only those who work for established media organizations.

“The law’s parameters focus on a reporter’s salary, employer, and frequency of publication, excluding those who do not fit the traditional mold of a journalist. This naive and narrow-minded understanding of how the media operate protects establishment interests at the expense of bloggers, freelancers, citizen reporters, and other new-media journalists.

“Instead of trying to define who is and isn’t a journalist, Congress should protect the actions of journalism–researching, reporting, writing, and publishing–within clearly defined contexts. A shield law based on action instead of labels would protect everyone who serves as a journalist, not just a select few.”

For media inquires, contact Michael Moroney at Michael.moroney@franklincenterhq.org.

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Watchdog.org Hires Steve Wilson To Launch New Mississippi Bureau

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today, veteran journalist Steve Wilson will join Watchdog.org’s new Mississippi Bureau as bureau chief. Wilson previously worked for 6 years as sports editor and columnist at the Vicksburg Post. Prior to his time at the Post, Wilson worked at the Sun-Herald (Biloxi), Highlands TodayLaGrange Daily NewsBama Magazine, and the Mobile Press-Register.

“I am excited to join Watchdog.org, and to help launch a new bureau in the great state of Mississippi,” Wilson said. “As a longtime print journalist, I am looking forward to the opportunity to work in the State Capitol.”

Wilson served in the United States Coast Guard for five years before enrolling at the University of Alabama, where he graduated in 2003. He has lived and worked in Mississippi since 2006. During his stint at the Vicksburg Post, Wilson was honored by the Mississippi Press Association with several awards, including a first-place award for sports column writing.

“Steve Wilson is a perfect fit for our new Mississippi bureau,” Vice President of Journalism Will Swaim said. “He has a long track record of outstanding work in the Magnolia State, and I look forward to working alongside him to help hold politicians in Jackson accountable.”

Former Daily Caller Tech Editor Joins Watchdog.org

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Former Daily Caller Tech Editor Joins Watchdog.org

 Josh Peterson Will Cover Technology for Investigative News Site   

ALEXANDRIA, Va.– Minnesota native Josh Peterson will be joining Watchdog.org as a technology reporter, covering  issues at the federal and state levels. Peterson previously served as Tech Editor at The Daily Caller, where he covered stories ranging from the NSA scandal and net neutrality to Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Prior to his time at the Caller, he worked as an investigative reporter for the Heritage Foundation.

“I am excited to join the Franklin Center’s Watchdog.org team, and for the chance to continue the work I began several years ago covering the tech and telecom policy space,” Peterson said. “Working with the Franklin Center will allow me to take what I’ve observed about these issues at the national and international level, and explore them more closely at the state level.”

Peterson graduated from Hillsdale College in 2008 with a B.A. in religion and philosophy, and is a National Journalism Center alum. His work has been cited by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, The Huffington Post, and numerous other major news outlets.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing on such an accomplished journalist to tackle the critical technology beat,” Vice President of Journalism Will Swaim said. “Josh has done fantastic work for the Daily Caller and I look forward to working alongside him at Watchdog.org.”

For media inquiries, contact Michael Moroney at mmoroney@watchdog.org or (571) 385-0774.

Watchdog.org 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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Jon Street Joins Vermont Watchdog

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

 

Missouri native, Jon Street will be joining Vermont Watchdog, writing on government waste, fraud and abuse. Jon has worked in a variety of media environments, from covering Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to handling digital marketing for a Fortune 500 company. His previous works have been featured on The Drudge Report, Fox Nation, and discussed on air by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

Jon’s aggressive reporting background is a natural fit for Watchdog’s bureau in Montpelier, Vermont. He not only possesses solid news judgment but demonstrates a unique ability to communicate facts that resonate with the public at large.

Jon is a 2012 graduate of Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications.

Jon can be reached on Facebook at www.facebook.com/watchdgovt or on Twitter @WatchdogVT

Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau Accepted to VA Press Association

Friday, October 25th, 2013

RICHMOND, VA – Today the Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau, an investigative news site exposing government waste, fraud, and abuse, was accepted into the VA Press Association.

“We are thankful and honored to be accepted as members into the Virginia Press Association,” said Kenric Ward, Bureau Chief for the Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau.

“Through our in-depth investigations into gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, voting rights and more, our reporters are dedicated to promoting well-informed electorate and a more transparent government in the state of Virginia,” Ward continued.

Get the latest news from the Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau here.

Maura Pennington Joins PA Independent!

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Arlington, Virginia native, Maura Pennington will be joining the PA Independent, writing on local education issues. Maura has been a Forbes op-ed contributor since 2011, writing on topics ranging from Millennial startups to Robin Hood as a libertarian hero. Before that, she worked as Development Coordinator at the Cato Institute.

She graduated from Dartmouth in 2009 with a degree in Russian Language and Literature and spent time living in St. Petersburg. She says her “study of Soviet culture greatly influenced my perspective on individual liberty and the role of the state.”

Maura has experience teaching and tutoring. That accounts for her eagerness to report on local education issues.

 

Watchdog.org is an investigative news site made up of professional, independent journalists covering state-specific and local government activity. Watchdog.org is a project of The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting new media journalism.

For more information go to Watchdog.org.

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Franklin Center Launches Initiative Protecting First Amendment

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

“Feinstein, Schumer, Graham seem to have forgotten …”

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a leading non-profit journalism organization, launched a major initiative in response to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s attempt to define who is a journalist and who isn’t.

Freedom of the press is a cornerstone to our American rights,” said Jason Stverak, President of The Franklin Center.  “By defining who is a journalist and who isn’t, the government is not only violating the First Amendment but potentially seeking to censor information to American citizens.”

First Amendment rights do not belong to only a select few but all Americans. It seems Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and Lindsey Graham has forgotten that. The American people will remind them,” Stverak continued.

The #Iam1A initiative purports anyone can be a journalist and everyone deserves journalistic protection given to Americans under the First Amendment. It encourages citizen journalists, members of the media, and all Americans to remind Congress that journalism is an act, not a profession.

Learn more at http://iam1a.com/.

Gov. Christie’s Election-Year Secret

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

For Immediate Release

CHRISTIE KEEPS PENSION PROBE RECORDS FROM PUBLIC VIEW AS GOVERNOR EYES SECOND TERM & 2016 RACE FOR WHITE HOUSE

As Gov. Chris Christie aims for a landslide win in the November election – with an eye towards the White House in 2016 – there’s a criminal investigation the New Jersey governor wants to keep from public view.

His running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, is a central figure in a hush-hush pension fraud probe that began more than two years ago. Now the Christie administration is arguing in court that the outcome, findings and all other records of the investigation should remain state secrets.

In a quest for those records, a New Jersey Watchdog reporter is suing the state Division of Criminal Justice. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Mercer County Superior Court.

DCJ began its investigation in May 2011 at the behest of a pension board, according to a sworn statement by a state official. Christie, Guadagno and DCJ officials have declined comment. In court papers, the state refuses to acknowledge whether the case is open or closed.

The inquiry followed an investigative report by New Jersey Watchdog detailing how false statements by Guadagno enabled one of her top aides to improperly collect and keep $245,000 from the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.

The stakes also are high for Guadagno, who would become governor if a re-elected Christie leaves office mid-term to pursue the presidency in 2016.

For his role, Christie risks political consequences and questions about his judgment in handling the Guadagno-Donovan controversy. Rather than appoint an independent prosecutor or special investigator, Christie allowed DCJ to run the case.

The full story is now online at http://newjersey.watchdog.org. The direct link ishttp://newjersey.watchdog.org/2013/09/23/christie-keeps-guadagno-probe-from-public-view-as-he-eyes-2016/.  For media inquiries, contact Mark Lagerkvist at mark@NJwatchdog.org.