The Internet is for democracy

The Center for Citizen Media has lifted the curtain on what it’s planning to do with a Sunlight Foundation grant.

It’s a political transparency project, with the goal of gathering everything there is to know about this year’s race for the 11th congressional district here in California, featuring incumbent Richard Pombo (R-Tracy).

All nonpartisan caveats aside, the presence of Pombo will make this a great example of what can be done with online tools when citizens decide to make a difference.

Why? Because Pombo has Jack Abramoff connections and favors the always-popular-in-California duo of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and undercutting the Endangered Species Act.
It should be an interesting, well-funded, moderately ugly election campaign, which makes for good copy and better research.

The kicker for me, of course, is who is going to be managing the whole online citizen-reporter shindig:

“The material we collect will be posted online. The site will be designed, built and initially maintained by the students in an online journalism class (J298) this fall at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley. Assisting the students will be co-instructors Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, and Bill Gannon, editorial director at Yahoo!, as well as Scot Hacker, webmaster at the journalism school.”

That’s right, the Berkeley online journalism class will be playing with real live political information, audio, video, and most certainly databases.

Sounds like fun.

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