CJR’s Transparency Package


Throughout this month, the Columbia Journalism Review has been rolling out a transparency package, which Sunlight helped to support. There are numerous articles which are worth reading closely.

Included in the package is a lengthy piece written by Clint Hendler on the Bush Administration’s pathological pursuit of secrecy.  “What We Didn’t Know Has Hurt Us,” gives a good survey of secrecy battles that were fought over the past eight years, highlighting what  we lost, what needs to be restored, and why it won’t be all that easy to do. Hendler will be CJR’s transparency beat reporter through the project.

Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Form executive editor and Sunlight senior technology advisor, offers “A See-Through Society: How the Web is Opening Up Our Democracy. ” Micah writes citizens are now gaining the opportunity at all levels of government “to take an active part in understanding and participating in the democratic decisions that affect their lives.” Micah’s article is the most up-to-date survey of government transparency trends.

1.    Technology is making it easier and easier to see, at a glance, how individuals, lobbyists, corporations and other interest groups are influencing government. 2.    Much better data visualization is transforming boring and difficult to understand lists and lines of numbers into compelling images that are dynamic and data-driven. 3.    Technology is allowing citizens to watch their government from below. “In effect,” he writes, “Big Brother is being watched by millions of Little Brothers.” 4.    Citizens armed with cell phones, video cameras, text messaging and services such as Twitter “are contributing to a real-time patter of information about what’s going on around them.

We’re exited to be working with CJR on the transparency project. Keep an eye out for more installments to the package.