Transparency and Accountability

Corporate and governmental transparency and accountability are vital to a functioning democracy. This is especially the case in an era when so much money is being traded for political influence in the United States.

If you don't know how power works in this country — and you aren’t allowed to see the financial interests that often lurk behind prominent political voices — it's next to impossible to make meaningful decisions at the polls.

The problem of financial ties between government and corporate special interests is prevalent in the media realm, where Federal Communications Commission regulators and congressional staff routinely leave the public sector for high-paying jobs as corporate media lobbyists and public relations flacks.

Moreover, some of the most powerful broadcast companies are fighting efforts to make them better disclose the flood of money they pocket to air political attack ads during election cycles.

Without true transparency and accountability, the media’s traditional role as democracy’s guardian of the truth is deeply compromised. Free Press is active on several fronts to expose the financial interests that corrupt policymaking — and to demand accountability to the public in a media system that’s awash with conflicts of interest.


Blog Posts

  • Go Bigger, Get Louder

    November 20, 2013
    We just hit a major milestone: the big 1-0. That’s right: Free Press is celebrating its first double-digit birthday!
  • Money Changes Everything

    November 12, 2013

    There are all kinds of villains in life. Mosquitoes. Bad-hair days. People who lean on their car horns even though there’s no possible way outside of a James Bond movie you could make that left-hand turn without risking your own life, or at least the life of your elderly car.

  • What Ted Cruz Doesn't Want You to Know

    October 28, 2013
    By now it seems pretty clear that Sen. Ted Cruz has a plan to occupy the White House. But he doesn’t want people to know too much about it.
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  • Hey FCC, Come Visit Me!

    It’s been five years since the FCC left Washington, D.C., in an official capacity to hear how its policies affect real people. It’s time for the agency to schedule meetings in communities around the country to give people a real voice in the policymaking process.

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Press Releases

  • Senate Confirms New FCC Chairman

    October 29, 2013
    WASHINGTON -- Late Tuesday, the Senate unanimously confirmed Tom Wheeler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Michael O'Rielly was also confirmed as a commissioner.
  • Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Continue Improving Political Ad Transparency

    August 26, 2013

    WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition (PIPAC), whose members include the Benton Foundation, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Free Press, the New America Foundation and the United Church of Christ Office of Communication Inc., along with the Center for Effective Government and the Sunlight Foundation, filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission about the agency’s rules requiring broadcasters to post their political files online.

  • FCC Chairman Genachowski to Step Down

    March 21, 2013
    WASHINGTON -- The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will announce on Friday that he will step down from his position as head of the agency. Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement: "When Julius Genachowski took office, there were high hopes that he would use his powerful position to promote the public interest. But instead of acting as the people's champion, he’s catered to corporate interests."
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  • Left in the Dark: Local Election Coverage in the Age of Big-Money Politics

    With more than $3.3 billion in political ad spending projected by Election Day, Free Press has turned its attention to the local television stations airing these ads. Left in the Dark explores whether stations barraging viewers with political ads are balancing this out with coverage of the role money is playing in this year’s elections. Read the full report here.

    September 24, 2012
  • Money, Media and Elections Tumblr

    Check out our Tumblr,, for the latest news on our political file work.

    Free Press fought in the field, at the FCC and in court to get broadcasters to post their political files online. These files contain crucial information about who’s paying to sway our vote.

    August 21, 2012
  • Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition Opposition to Stay of FCC Disclosure Rules

    Intervenors Free Press, Benton Foundation, Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, New America Foundation, and Office of Communication, Inc. of the United Church of Christ (collectively Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition or “PIPAC”), by its attorneys, pursuant to F.R.A.P 18 and 27, and D.C. Circuit Rules 18 and 27, respectfully opposes the Emergency Motion for a Stay Pending Judicial Review (“Mot.”) filed by Petitioner National Association of Broadcasters (“NAB”) on July 10, 2012. NAB seeks a stay of the effective date of the FCC’s Second Report and Order in MM Docket No.

    July 20, 2012
More »

News from Around the Web

  • No Justice Roberts, the Internet Can't Do Government's Job

    Sunlight Foundation
    April 4, 2014

    Writing for the majority in the Supreme Court’s latest effort to dismantle the nation’s campaign finance system, Chief Justice John Roberts argued that government doesn’t need to restrain big money in politics because the Internet will. There are several problems with Roberts’ argument that the Internet will take care of big money in politics.

  • Campaign Ad Cash Lures Buyers to Swing-State TV Stations

    New York Times
    July 8, 2013

    The increasingly expensive elections that play out across the country every two years are making stations look like a smart investment, with the revenue piling up each time a candidate says, “I approve this message.”

  • Organizing After Snowden --- What Are the Next Steps?

    Waging Nonviolence
    June 12, 2013

    Ever since news came out about Edward Snowden’s leak of secret National Security Agency surveillance programs, there have been both denunciations of Snowden and widespread expressions of support. Both the Obama administration and the technology companies entangled in the programs are under heightened scrutiny. But what does the leak mean for organizing?

Learn More

  • Money, Media and Elections

    The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision launched a new era of big-money politics. The wealthiest 1 percent now has even more power to pick and choose our nation’s leaders. And they’re spending the bulk of this money on televised political ads designed to mislead voters. (Click here to see Free Press' infographic depicting this dysfunctional dynamic.)

  • Public and Political File Inspections

    TV broadcasters use the public airwaves for free in exchange for a commitment to serve and inform their communities. If you want to know what your local broadcasters are doing to meet those obligations, the best place to look is their public files.

    And the political files broadcasters are required to maintain include essential information about who is buying political ads and how much they are paying.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good