Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Long Island University has named the Center for Public Integrity
winner of the first George Polk Award for Internet Reporting for Windfalls of War,
a six-month excavation of American postwar contracts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. (The Polk awards are among the top prizes in American journalism, named for a CBS slain in the line of duty.)
The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan institute
investigative reporting, filed 73 Freedom of Information Act
requests in pursuit of its study and put a staff of 20 to work on the
project. It's not over yet: Charles Lewis, executive director, said the
center is still in federal court suing
the State Department and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Among the "Windfalls" findings:
- More than
70 American companies and individuals had won up to $8 billion in
- Those companies had donated over $500,000 to the Bush presidential campaign, more than they gave to any other politician over
the last dozen years
- Nearly every one of
the 10 largest contracts went to
companies employing former high-ranking government officials or
individuals with close ties to those agencies or Congress.
The Online Journalism Review has an interview with Lewis, including much more about the Center's history and projects. See the Center's own site, publicintegrity.org, for the latest news and its book-length reports, including Lewis's The Buying of the President 2004, already looking at Sen. John Kerry's financial contributors.
Building Better Blogging Tools
Both Dave Winer of Scripting News and Howard Rheingold at SmartMobs
have launched great discussions of blogging tools this week, inviting
suggestions for improvements to the software bloggers and blog readers
Winer posted his request as part of the buildup for Bloggercon at Harvard on April 17 and collected more than 100 reader comments in a day.
Rheingold's question was timely, "Why are all blog commenting tools braindead?"
A veteran of message boards and weblogs, he would like to see blog
comment systems with more discussion-board features, to "enable many
people to discuss many topics with many
other people over many days, weeks, and months," including subscribing
to comment threads no matter how old they are. In Howard's discussion,
Dave posted a link to an alternate view of his own discussion thread to show some of the flexibility that's already possible, including comments on comments.
That's one thing I'd like to see more of -- opening channels back and
forth between healthy discussions. In fact, that alternate view of the
comment database comes close to another improvement I mentioned in the discussion.
The Poynter Institute made a valiant attempt when it set up a blog for its Narrative Journalism conference at Harvard couple of months ago. The sponsors were open to suggestions (I made some);
the staff built a category-oriented commenting system,
participants were hundreds of articulate writers, and the formal
presenters were brilliant. BUT an online conversation that could
have gone on for months faded in a week or two. Among things to blame: difficulty getting started
as a contributor, and a snowstorm that probably gave folks other things
to deal with immediately after the conference weekend. By then it was
end-of-semester panic for any academic participants.
Paint By Issues.
VoteByIssue.org, a collaboration between WBUR and PBS, has retooled its
quiz to reflect the much-downsized Democratic candidate pool. You go
through fourteen issues and choose which quotes appeal to you the most,
and at the end, the site tells you... [STUMP: media and politics]
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7/19/08; 12:53:41 PM.