At the Democracy Fund, we work to keep up with the latest research, reports, and analyses to deepen our understanding of our democracy and what we can do to strengthen it. (If you are interested in news and updates from our grantees, please visit the News Page.)
- Reince Priebus, RNC Chair, Says Journalists Will Moderate Fewer Debates In 2016 GOP Primary (HuffingtonPost) March 22 - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday that his party will have fewer debates moderated by journalists from mainstream news outlets in the 2016 primary. The 2012 primary featured more than 20 debates and candidate forums that started eight months out from the Iowa caucuses and lasted until late February 2012. The televised debates gave the candidates with less money more public exposure and forced the candidates to spar with one another on policy proposals.
- TV Will Tear Us Apart: The Future of Political Polarization in American Media (Smithsonian.com) April 5 - Imagine a world where the only media you consume serves to reinforce your particular set of steadfast political beliefs. Sounds like a pretty far-out dystopia, right? Well, in 1969, Internet pioneer Paul Baran predicted just that. In a paper titled “On the Impact of the New Communications Media Upon Social Values,” Baran (who passed away in 2011) looked at how Americans might be affected by the media landscape of tomorrow. The paper examined everything from the role of media technology in the classroom to the social effects of the portable telephone — a device not yet in existence that he predicted as having the potential to disrupt our lives immensely with unwanted calls at inopportune times.
- LA County developing a voting system for the digital age (SCPR) April 4 – Los Angeles County is re-inventing the nation’s largest electoral system, which serves nearly 4 million registered voters. The goal is a more flexible, user-friendly system that county officials hope will increase turnout. Currently, LA County represents one of the lowest wait times to vote in the country, averaging a 3-minute wait in the 2012 presidential election. To design the system from scratch, county officials started in 2010 by surveying voters and stakeholder groups. They added observations from poll workers. The county registrar of voters also co-sponsored a design challenge on a crowdsourcing website that drew responses from all over.
- Corruption case further sullies Albany’s reputation (Center for Public Integrity) April 3 - A New York state senator and five other political officials have been named in a sweeping federal corruption case — the latest in a series of scandals that helped earn the Empire State a D grade from the State Integrity Investigation. At the heart of the complaint unsealed Tuesday: federal prosecutors say Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat from Queens, used a series of contacts in an attempt to bribe New York City Republican Party officials to approve his bid for mayor on the GOP ticket which has since resulted in an additional arrest since the case broke earlier this month.
- About those ‘Glory Days of American Journalism’ (Steven Waldman, Columbia Journalism Review) - March 25 - Matt Yglesias has more or less conceded that there is a flaw in his argument—that we are living in the “Glory Days of American Journalism,” as the headline of his piece in Slate put it last week. “Ignore the doomsayers,” the subhead advised. “The news-reading public has never had more and better information at their fingertips.” The boo boo was that he forgot about state and local coverage.
- Deeper data dive finds $5.5 billion in uncounted newspaper industry revenue (Rick Edmonds, Poynter) April 8th – Rick Edmonds summarizes an important report on newspaper income suggesting a more diversified income base is emerging “The Newspaper Association of America has just completed such an exercise and found some solid gains that have been overlooked previously in its own measurements,” says Edmonds.