Welcome to the Political Ad Sleuth Campus Challenge!
We’re recruiting a nationwide team of political ad sleuths to visit their local TV stations, get copies of the political ad files, upload them to the Web and mine the data. This is a great election-year activity for college classes and student media organizations. Email CampusChallenge@freepress.net to get involved.
This page tells you everything you need to know about visiting your local stations. We also have links to hands-on checklists, resources and examples from other campuses.
Start here with our Political Ad Sleuth Timeline to give you a sense of key dates this fall. And feel free to email our project coordinator at CampusChallenge@freepress.net to learn more about training opportunities.
Background on TV Stations' Political Files:
All broadcast TV stations are required to maintain political ad files that document who has purchased political ads and how much they paid for airtime. We’ve launched the Political Ad Sleuth Campus Challenge to help bring voters information they need before they vote on Nov. 6.
- For more context, head to Free Press' hub of info on political ads.
- This article features helpful info on how to find the essential details in political files.
- Our Money, Media and Elections page gives the lowdown on the media’s role in corrupting the electoral process. It also links to our groundbreaking report, Citizens Inundated. Click here for our related infographic.
- The Federal Communications Commission now requires major-network stations in the nation’s top 50 broadcast markets to post their political ad files online. This article provides FAQs about the online files.
How to Inspect Political Ad Files:
These resources provide nuts-and-bolts info on how to inspect political files.
- Free Press Training Video: Our video shows you how to set up a visit to your local TV station, find the files you want and get them online:
- How to Inspect Political Files: This handy how-to guide provides step-by-step information on how to free the files from your local broadcasters.
- File-Inspection Checklist: Ready to visit your local station? Don't forget to bring this handy checklist, which covers both public and political files.
- Sunlight Foundation Overview Video: This video gives further context on visiting stations and uncovering crucial information in the political files:
Sample Ad-Inspection Projects:
All over the U.S., people on campuses and in communities are doing great things with the political ad datathey’ve collected from local TV stations.
- Follow Free Press staff and others as we blog about our own inspections at local TV stations around the country.
- Project Open Vault is a collaboration between the University of Missouri's Columbia Missourian, KBIA 91.3 FM, KOMU TV-8 and Newsy.com that gives voters a comprehensive look at state elections.
- Journalists around the country are busy putting all of this political ad data to use. Check out our Tumblr, which tracks this great reporting.
- Broadcast journalism students in Cleveland filmed their attempt to inspect the files at their local TV stations: