April 26, 2013
Location: First Amendment Lounge
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Reporter Training on the "Post-Election Payback"
Please join the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Press Club Journalism Institute and veteran reporters and experts for this "Post-Election Payback" training. This training will showcase the latest datasets, tools and case studies to help reporters drill down and track the effects of campaign money on policy outcomes and on hiring decisions in Congress and in the new administration.
WHEN: Friday, April 26 - Saturday, April 27
WHERE: National Press Club, Lisagor Room (Friday) and First Amendment Room (Saturday)
Friday, April 26 (Lisagor Room)
1:30 – 2 p.m. Registration
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Spotlight on Health Care: Is Congress Protecting Patients or Industry? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") brought wins and losses for specific companies and certain categories of health care businesses. But now that the legislation is passed, it's too late to influence the process, right? This panel will look at what the industry wants -- and what it has already gotten -- in 2013 and beyond.
• Eric Lipton, New York Times
• Wendell Potter, Insurance industry whistleblower; analyst, Center for Public Integrity
3 p.m. – 4 p.m. From Regulator to Regulated: The Role of the Revolving Door
Reporters and watchdogs often focus on the money, but there are other forms of elite influence that help shape laws and rules, including "who you know." These panelists will discuss their work to ferret out who's spinning through the revolving door (including "reverse revolvers") and why.
• Jonathan Salant, Bloomberg News
• Michael Smallberg, Project on Government Oversight
• Dan Auble, Center for Responsive Politics
4 p.m. – 5 p.m. Budget Battle 2013: Tools for Digging out Hidden Payback in Legislative Language
As the effects of "the sequester" begin to hit home, learn from budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense about how to identify "special interest payback" buried in legislation that may affect budget decisions and national priorities in such areas as national security, transportation & infrastructure; energy and natural resources, and more.
• Ryan Alexander, Taxpayers for Common Sense
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Reception
Saturday, April 27 (First Amendment Room)
9 – 9:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Tools for Tracking the Payback:
CRP's research director will walk reporters through the types of money and influence, using CRP's data on contributions, outside money, expenditures, lobbying and new tools coming on deck.
• Sarah Bryner, Center for Responsive Politics
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Putting the Tools to Work to Report Out the Story
Experts from two groups that exist to make the facts and figures more user-friendly showcase how to find the story.
• Bill Allison, Sunlight Foundation
• Russ Choma, Center for Responsive Politics
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Menendez and Melgen: Helping a Friend, Donor Payback or both?
Reporters walk through the process and the details of the story.
• Herb Jackson, The Record
• Russ Choma, Center for Responsive Politics
12:30 p.m. Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Charles Lewis, American University (lunch provided)
A bestselling author and national investigative journalist for the past 30 years, Chuck Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism and since 2008 the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. He is the founder of The Center for Public Integrity and several other nonprofit organizations. His fifth and last co-authored book with the Center staff, The Buying of the President 2004 (HarperCollins/Perennial) was a New York Times bestseller.
1:30 – 1:45 p.m. Break
1:45 – 2:45 p.m. FOLLOWING THE MONEY TO FIND THE STORY:
Tracking relationships and potential influence via campaign contributions is an obvious tool, but reporters need to look beyond campaign finance reports to truly follow the money. Members may find other places for donors to be helpful. Lobbying, rather than campaign contributions, might tip reporters off to a story. This discussion focuses on the alternatives available to donors and politicians alike and tips on how to report the story.
• Fredreka Schouten, USA Today
• James Grimaldi, Wall Street Journal
2:45 - 3:45 Super PACs, Political Nonprofits and their Influence over Policy
Tom Hamburger, reporter with the Washington Post, and CRP researcher Robert Maguire discuss outside organizations that were politically active during and since the 2012 elections. Considering outside money and looking ahead, what might we see in 2014? After years on the money in politics beat, how have influence strategies changed?
• Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post
• Robert Maguire, Center for Responsive Politics
3:45– 4:45 p.m. Where to Go from Here? Conference Wrap-Up and "AMA"
"Ask Me Anything" with longtime FEC veteran, Bob Biersack, who reflects on the panel presentations and provides issue analysis and predictions for 2014.
• Bob Biersack, Center for Responsive Politics
Background: As spending levels soar with each election cycle, the need for reliable data and investigative reporting about the role of money in politics is greater than ever. CRP has calculated that $6.3 billion was spent on the 2012 federal elections all told. Already, the FEC and IRS data show that a complex web of secretive, "independent" outside groups that have reported spending more than $300 million to influence who wins and who loses. But who are these people investing millions – tens of millions – to help their candidate win?
These new categories of money complicate the task of covering money and politics. However, understanding them is essential -- for political reporters, as well as those covering specific issues like the environment or health care -- in order to accurately portray money's critical role in politics. Since CRP, a nonpartisan organization, began conducting research on money in politics nearly 30 years ago, there has been a dramatic rise in coverage of this issue at both the federal and state levels. News organizations routinely use our contribution data while covering campaigns.
However, popular interest, and therefore news coverage, wanes quickly after Election Day. Reporters rely on the data far less in this post-election stretch of time, when many political donors actually seek a return on investments by attempting to influence public policy or place individuals with shared interests into key government positions. This is precisely when the public needs to be alerted to evidence about whether public policy is being decided on the merits, or the money.
Reporting on the post-election payback is an altogether different job than developing a contributor database, and the post-2012 election time frame provides the ideal opportunity. Attend this training to learn about all of the available data, tools and research to build a solid foundation for investigations and accurate, insightful stories.
This training seminar was made possible by a generous grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
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