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What We’re Reading

By Justin Anderson / 2013 April 30th

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.)

  • Civic Engagement in the Digital Age (Pew Internet) April 25 – A new report from Pew Internet examines the increase in political activity over social media from the 2008 Presidential election to the 2012 election. Overall, political content postings on social media sites have increased by a factor of 6 since 2008, while engaging with political candidates through social media has increased by a factor of four. The full report and findings can be accessed here.
  • Is the Press Too Big to Fail? (HuffingtonPost) April 25 – Todd Gitlin (Professor of Journalism & Sociology, Columbia University) examines both the financial and circulation decline in print media over the last century while question if, in fact, press is too big to fail or if it was failing long before it began to falter financially?
  • Breaking news pragmatically: Some reflections on silence and timing in networked journalism (Nieman Lab) April 23 - Events in Boston showed how much the networked press needs to better understand two things: silence and timing. The Internet makes it possible for people other than traditional journalists to express themselves, quickly, to potentially large audiences. But the ideal press should be about more than this. It should be about demonstrating robust answers to two inseparable questions: Why do you need to know something now? And why do you need to say something now?
  • SEC May Require Corporations to Disclose Political Donations (New York Times) April 23 – A group of Democratic officlas have petitioned the SEC to require publicly traded corporations to share political donations with their shareholders. S.E.C. officials have indicated that they could propose a new disclosure rule by the end of April, setting up a major battle with business groups that oppose the proposal and are preparing for a fierce counterattack if the agency’s staff moves ahead.
  • Bill Would Expand Disclosure Of Political Money (NPR) April 23 – Senators Murkowski (R- AK) and Wyden (D-OR) have proposed a bill aimed at revealing the corporations and unions that spent around $300 million in secretly financed campaign ads during the 2012 election. Currently, candidate committees, parties, and PACs disclose contributions to the FEC, while 501(c)s have no such requirements as they are regulated by the IRS.
  • Transparency Report: More government removal requests than ever before (Google Blog) April 25 – Global Google takedown requests from the second half of 2012 increased to 2,285 governmental requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content; up from 1,811 requests of removal of 18,070 items during the first half of the year. Russia and Brazil saw the highest increase for governmental takedown requests, as well as a total of 20 countries requesting takedown of clips from the “Innocence of Muslims” movie.
  • The Senate ain’t a fun place to be these days (WashingtonPost) April 23 – Max Baucus’ announcement earlier this month that he will retire instead of seeking reelection in 2014 marks the ninth senator to either retire or resign prior the 2014 election, and the 27th to retire over the previous three election cycles. This is the largest number of Senators to step down in a six year period in more than 40 years.

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