Center for Citizen Media Rotating Header Image

Newspaper Creates, Discusses Database of Obama Donors, but Hides Full List

This is the kind of thing that makes me crazy. The Washington Post runs an interesting story — Obama’s $100,000-Plus Donors Were Able to Give to Several Entities — about “nearly 100″ wealthy families who’ve been giving big bucks to Obama. The story is based on data the paper crunched itself.

But the article names just a few of the donors. We’re free to speculate about the rest, but why should we have to? Why not post all of the names, and amounts so we can see who else is on the list and what they gave? Better yet, why not put the database online so other folks can crunch the numbers to see if they get other interesting results?

The Post gets the Internet better than some newspapers, but obviously it still has a lot to learn.

7 Comments on “Newspaper Creates, Discusses Database of Obama Donors, but Hides Full List”

  1. #1 Dave Mastio
    on Jan 18th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I was pretty dern frustrated too. There is a tantalizing bit in there about one of these donors wanting to use his kids under six (as I recall) to give more money. This is a sleazy practice that has been getting bigger every election cycle since the Federal Election Commission was created. I would sure have liked to play with a database to see if there was more there along those lines.

  2. #2 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jan 18th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    inauguration bundlers:
    http://www.pic2009.org/page/content/bundlers/

    inauguration/campaign combined bundling:
    http://becoming44.org/content/inaugural-bundlers-0

  3. #3 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 18th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Jon, good stuff, but not the data the Post discussed. Bundlers and big individual donors are different.

  4. #4 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jan 18th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    The bundlers and big donor lists largely correlate, no doubt about that.

    Of course I agree with you on transparency. The WaPo should have at least linked to pic2009.org — as in Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009 — the official source!

    They’ve also listed the donors — all 5,516 who gave over $200. (Nothing frustrates the casual web researcher like a 1MB HTML page!)

  5. #5 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jan 19th, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Why not ask the people involved in the story for their reasons, instead of flaming them right off the bat?

  6. #6 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 21st, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Seth, an editor friend at the Post agrees with me on this.

  7. #7 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jan 22nd, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Noted, but that doesn’t explicate their reasons for not doing it (or did you mean he agrees they should be flamed right off the bat?). Aren’t you even curious?