Track Legislation and Political Influence with Sunlight Foundation Tools: A Digital Tools Tutorial

This Webinar was originally broadcast on:
January 15, 2015 Enroll Now
Watch and listen to the original one-hour Webinar in its entirety. This Webinar recording features the full presentation led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty including Q&A from the audience and resources from the presenter.

Course Overview

Track Legislation and Political Influence with Sunlight Foundation Tools: A Digital Tools Tutorial
This $29.95 Webinar is free thanks to the support of the American Press Institute and Knight Foundation.
Originally Broadcast On:
January 15, 2015
Time Estimate:
One hour for the main presentation and questions. Sometimes presenters stay longer to answer additional questions from participants.

About Webinars

In this virtual classroom, participants can join in a seminar led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty. This screencast includes live audio and a slideshow presentation in which participants can post questions and respond to poll questions posed by the host.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Sunlight Foundation offers powerful tools for tracking legislation and influence.

Almost every investigative story grows with a root system that you can follow to a state legislative decision. Political reporters and those whose stories have ties to politics must have the tools and knowledge to follow the trails of money and influence.

As Congress and most state legislatures begin new sessions in early 2015, the OpenStates and Scout tools may prove useful as they enable reporters to conduct wide-ranging searches of state and federal legislative data, federal regulatory data, court data and more. Political Ad Sleuth and Ad Hawk, two political ad trackers, help reporters monitor issue ads and identify the organizations, individuals and agendas behind them.

This free digital tools tutorial will enable you to follow the money and unearth the truth as you pursue stories that matter to your community.

What Will I Learn:
  • How to use OpenStates and OpenCongress to track legislation in all 50 state legislatures and Congress
  • How to use Scout to monitor state legislative activity, federal legislative and regulatory activity and court decisions—even FEC filings
  • How to use Sunlight’s suite of tools on to track influence in government
  • How to use Political Ad Sleuth and Ad Hawk to follow political influence money that often isn’t reported to state and federal campaign finance watchdogs
Who Should Take this Course:

Reporters covering Congress or state legislatures, or covering beats or topic areas that are likely to be subject to state or federal legislation, regulation or court decisions.

Course Instructor:

Bill Allison

Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, is a veteran investigative journalist. Bill began his career at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he spent two years assisting Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Donald Bartlett and James Steele. He was senior editor of the Center for Public Integrity’s “The Buying of the President” books in 2000 and 2004, and co-authored The Cheating of America with Center founder Charles Lewis.


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism excellence in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed, engaged communities and lead to transformational change.

Training Partner:

American Press Institute

The American Press Institute advances an innovative and sustainable news industry by helping publishers understand and engage audiences, grow revenue, improve public-service journalism, and succeed at organizational change.

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