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Like American Idol, Only for Earmark Requests

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, March 18 2010

You might recall that we recently drew your attention to how Rep. Tim Walz, Democrat from Minnesota, has been posting the earmark requests that have come into his office, and has been asking his constituents to help him vet just which ones deserve his support.

Rep. Chellie Pingree from Maine's 1st District might, perhaps, have done Walz one better. At least, it's more entertaining. Pingree asked groups and individuals making requests for appropriations for fiscal year 2011 to prepare three-minute or so presentations on the merits of their particular projects, and why they deserved taxpayer dollars. Pingree filmed them, about 90 in total, and posted them to YouTube and her website, where constituents can leave comments assessing whether the earmark requests should go on to the next round House Appropriations Committee.

Above is one example of the Earmark Idol webisodes. The applicants want $370,000 for the extension of the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path. Three minutes of video presentation probably isn't going to be enough for citizens not otherwise familiar with the project to really get a handle on its details, but it certainly does open up the appropriations process to more eyeballs. Besides, how awesome is that lobster wall art?

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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