When the “bridge to nowhere” was everywhere in the news two years ago, Americans for Prosperity hit the road on an “Ending Earmarks Express” tour.
The most powerful report from AFP’s journey came in Ketchikan, Alaska, when the group revealed in a two-minute video just how foolish pork-barrel spending can get. The story showed Americans exactly where the bridge to nowhere, a boondoggle backed by the likes of just-indicted Sen. Ted Stevens, was going to be built -- to the tune of $223 million of your money.
Congress reluctantly rescinded funding for the bridge to nowhere, but greased pigs continue to run free, and spend freely, in the corridors on Capitol Hill. In fiscal 2008, Citizens Against Government Waste unearthed nearly 12,000 examples of pork in federal spending bills. The projects cost the taxpayers $17.2 billion -- and too many Americans are clueless about where the money went or which lawmakers are to blame for the wasteful spending.
With the help of citizen journalists all across America, Eyeblast.tv and the Porkbusters coalition hope to change that. We’re under no illusion that we can utterly quench lawmakers’ insatiable appetite for pork. But we can expose them for the oinkers they are while they feast at the taxpayers’ trough.
How will we do that? Three words: “Porkbusters On Patrol.” That’s what Eyeblast and Porkbusters are calling the networked journalism project we are announcing today.
“Porkbusters On Patrol” combines the concept of AFP’s earmarks tour with the vision that Instapundit Glenn Reynolds shared in his book “An Army Of Davids.” The goal is to equip an army of citizen reporters with pocket camcorders to produce an ongoing series of on-site video stories about Congress' pork-barreling ways.
I’ll coordinate the effort at Eyeblast, a video-sharing network created by the MediaResearchCenter, by recruiting stringers, distributing free cameras and paying travel expenses of reporters on assignment in their regions. The Porkbusters coalition will identify pork projects that lend themselves to video reports, and people who want to produce reports are welcome to suggest their own.
The videos will be published at Eyeblast.tv, where bloggers and others will be able to grab the code to embed the stories on their sites. The initial deadline for video submissions is Aug. 31, with the launch of the series planned for Monday, Sept. 8. We'll continue to promote videos as they are submitted and as often as warranted.
The best videos in the first round will be showcased at Americans for Prosperity's "Defending The American Dream Summit" in Washington this October, and video submissions by college students could become eligible as entries in a future competition.
If you already have a videocamera and know of pork sites in your area that need some video sunlight cast on them, send your ideas to me. Stories must be assigned in advance to receive reimbursement for travel expenses. Eyeblast also will pay for assigned video reports from contributors who have their own equipment.
If you don't have a camera but want to be a Porkbuster on Patrol, go here for my e-mail address and let me know you're interested. You can pitch specific story ideas, or we'll contact you if we identify pork in your region that we want covered.
Remember to keep the videos short -- two to three minutes is ideal -- and make them funny if you can. Everybody online loves a good parody. Think of gimmicks, too. If you’re exposing the idiocy of funding a teapot museum, try organizing a tea party on the site. Go golfing to poke fun at the government-backed golfing program for young people.
Other ideas you can incorporate into the video reports include man-on-the-street interviews at the pork sites and interviews with the congressmen who sponsored them. Catch them at town-hall meetings this election season.
If you want to get involved, e-mail Eyeblast executive producer Danny Glover: dglover-at-mediaresearch-dot-ort.
Let’s go bust some pork!