Today, the Well Connected Project of the Center for Public Integrity is excited to launch an issue portal jointly with Congresspedia. This issue portal is a wiki, like Wikipedia, creating a collection of articles on telecom, media and technology policy, in a single location. Anyone can read, write and edit these articles.
This issue portal builds on the great telecom and technology reporting done by the members of the Well Connected Project staff. This venture into collaborative journalism is a first for our project. It adds a new element to our investigative journalism endeavor. First of all, we have the Media Tracker, a free database of more than five million records that tells you who owns the media where you live by typing in you ZIP code. If we win our lawsuit against the FCC, we’ll also include company-specific broadband information in the Media Tracker.
Second, our blog features dozens of quick-turnaround stories on the hottest topics in telecom and media policy. Recent stories have broken news on the battle over 700 Megahertz, on the lobbying over the proposed XM-Sirius satellite radio merger, and also over copyright controls on electronic devices. We also do investigative reports – like this one about Sam Zell, the new owner of Tribune Co. – that build on the data that is freely available in Media Tracker.
Now, with the addition of this Congresspedia wiki, our project aims to incorporate citizen-journalism on key public policy issues near and dear to the blogosphere. These are issues like Broadband availability, Digital copyright, Digital television, Regulating media content, and Spectrum are at the core of what techies care about in Washington. We hope you will add others articles, too. In fact, I’ve already started my own wish list: articles about Patent overhaul legislation, Media ownership, the Universal Service Fund, and Video franchising. Our reporters can summarize these issues and debates, but so can you.
Take a crack at them!
Just as exciting is the next phase of the project. Congresspedia plans to install live feeds into the Wiki from the Center’s Media Tracker. Center reporters also will use citizen journalists to enhance coverage of more than 300 corporations in the information industries currently profiled in the Media Tracker.
Because of its higher standards of sourcing and accountability than other wikis, Congresspedia is well suited to this citizen-journalism endeavor. Congresspedia and SourceWatch have been maintaining this politics- and policy-related wiki for four years, and we’re eager to contribute to this mix.
Finally, Congresspedia articles are posted under the GNU Free Documentation License, which is kind of a copyright-free license – similar to Creative Commons licenses. We’ve been doing something similar with the datasets in our Media Tracker. We hope our Media Tracker policy license can serve as a model for other database providers that want to encourage more public policy-related usage of the data they collect.
Please see Well Connected on SourceWatch for our list of featured articles, as well as the history of the collaboration with Congresspedia. And while you are there, don’t forget to check in at the WikiProject page. We’ll be itemizing the tasks that we’d most like you, citizen-journalists and citizen-editors, to engage in. And if you want to leave feedback, please drop a note on the WikiProject’s talk page.