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Center reporters awarded top New England journalism award — twice

New England’s leading media association has awarded two of its top journalism awards
to The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The New England Newspaper and Press Association on Thursday recognized the Center with two Publick Occurrences Awards for its expose called, “Rx for Theft,” and its profile of governor Paul LePage. The press association presented 12 Publick Occurrences Awards this year for “the very best work that New England newspapers produce … whether it’s individual or team stories, series, spot news coverage, columns or photojournalism …”

Newspapers of all sizes, from large dailies to weeklies to small online media such as the Center, competed for the awards. The Center was the only news organization to win two of the awards this year. In awarding the prize to Center senior reporters Naomi Schalit and John Christie for their series on pharmacists who steal drugs, the judges said, “The report showed that the Maine pharmacy board was too lax in reissuing licenses. Continue Reading →

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Why Democracy needs journalists, lesson #47

In between all the fancy academic language, there’s a lesson in the recently released study by a Dartmouth and a University of Essex professor: Politicians don’t lie as much when they know journalists are watching them. Here’s the abstract of the research paper, “The Effect of Fact-checking on Elites: A field experiment on U.S. state legislators,” by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler:
Does external monitoring improve democratic performance? Fact-checking has come to play an increasingly important role in political coverage in the United States, but research suggests it may be ineffective at reducing public misperceptions about controversial issues. However, fact-checking might instead help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. To evaluate this deterrent hypothesis, we conducted a field experiment in nine U.S. states in which a randomly assigned group of state legislators were sent a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they are caught making questionable statements. Continue Reading →

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Antidote to politics: Some good reading on the debt limit

Whenever there’s a big news story, it can be hard to get behind the headlines and find useful, unbiased and verifiable information on that particular issue. The news often ends up being dominated by talking heads with an axe to grind. So we’re always delighted when the folks at “Journalist’s Resource,” run by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, offer up a collection of research to help us understand the issue. Here’s an excerpt from their latest roundup of research on the debt ceiling, which is really helpful for filling in the background on this important, politically charged conflict:
What is the “debt ceiling” and why does it matter? At the most basic level, it is the limit that Congress places on the U.S. Treasury in terms of how much debt it can issue. Continue Reading →

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