A group of citizen journalists in the Cleveland metro, so outraged by corruption within their local government, have taken matters into their own hands. Working in conjunction with local investigative journalism efforts, they’ve launched Map the Mess, a grassroots effort to shed light on the workings of business and government in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. They use social networking maps to reveal connections in government and to illustrations of how public officials conduct business in the county. They hope that the site provides enough transparency to the local government as to change the pattern of “patronage and privilege that frustrates reform and productivity.” Here’s an example of a map the folks at MtM created showing the various connections of local officials.
The site includes forums that explore such topics as the hidden connections that drive major public projects, rumors spawned by press coverage of local controversies, and isolated facts that might fit into a larger story or pattern.
This is really neat. I imagine we’ll see more local transparency groups like MtM across the country.