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The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization that focuses on investigative reporting at state and local levels.
The center, based in Bismarck, N.D., was founded in 2009 by the Sam Adams Alliance, a conservative thinktank, and several of its employees have come from positions in conservative publications and political offices, though it says it strives for objective, unbiased reporting. The center’s websites focus on government spending, corruption, and waste.
The center had a staff of about 30 in 2012, many of which have ties to conservative groups. It has been criticized for having a conservative outlook that is not disclosed to readers. The center’s president, Jason Stverak, has not revealed the source of its funding, though some of the individual sites are funded in collaboration with local conservative groups. The lack of transparency caused its Illinois site to be denied a spot in the state capitol press bureau.
The center runs a group of state-specific sites that cover state and local government called Watchdog.org, with sites in 18 states as of mid-2012, including Kansas, Maine , Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. It also runs state government-oriented sites in Illinois and Virginia. Most of the sites are staffed by a single reporter, though they use contributions from non-professional journalists and have a citizen journalism platform called Watchdog Wire.
The center also trains conservative thinktanks and websites in reporting.
The Sam Adams Alliance also provided the initial funding for Texas Watchdog, a Houston-based state government-focused site founded in 2008. Texas Watchdog has partnered with the longtime nonprofit Center for Public Integrity on an investigative report.
AOL, formerly known as America Online, is a web portal, online content producer, and Internet service provider. AOL owns about 80 websites under various brands, including the tech blogs Engadget and Techcrunch, the financial site DailyFinance and the sports blog network Fanhouse, the tech review site gdgt, and the Huffington Post, as well as the mapping service…