"ALEC: Exposed" Wins September Sidney Award

The Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine have won this month's Sidney Award for excellence in socially conscious journalism, the Sidney Hillman Foundation announced Tuesday.


The winning project, "ALEC:Exposed" is a groundbreaking print and multimedia expose of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The project consisted of a website and a special section of The Nation.

The winners obtained over 800 leaked documents from ALEC and used them to analyze the secretive organization's agenda and impact. The leaked materials were posted online for public inspection and discussion.

ALEC is a "bill mill," a membership organization where state lawmakers huddle with corporations to write cookie cutter legislation that is introduced in state houses all over the country. These model bills, which often become real laws, touch on virtually every area of state government from weakening environmental protections to eliminating collective bargaining for public sector workers. I've blogged about ALEC here at Focal Point.

I interviewed winners Mary Bottari and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy on the story behind the story of ALEC:Exposed.

John Nichols, Joel Rogers, Laura Dresser, Wendell Potter, Lisa Graves, Julie Underwood, Mike Elk, and Bob Sloan also contributed to "ALEC: Exposed." Liliana Segura, The Nation's Associate Editor, edited this special section.

Why “shooting the messenger” is a real condition, explain scientists

Harvard psychologists discover why we dislike the people who deliver bad news.

Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study looked at why people tend to "shoot the messenger".
  • It's a fact that people don't like those who deliver them bad news.
  • The effect stems from our inherent need to make sense of bad or unpredictable situations.
Keep reading Show less

Philosopher Alan Watts on the meaning of life

He reminds us that meaning is wherever we choose to look.

Photo: Pictorial Parade/Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Alan Watts suggests there is no ultimate meaning of life, but that "the quality of our state of mind" defines meaning for us.
  • This is in contradiction to the notion that an inner essence is waiting to be discovered.
  • Paying attention to everyday, mundane objects can become highly significant, filling life with meaning.
Keep reading Show less

How to detect life on Mars

If life exists on Mars, there's a good chance it's related to us, say researchers.

NASA/JPL/USGS
Surprising Science

When MIT research scientist Christopher Carr visited a green sand beach in Hawaii at the age of 9, he probably didn't think that he'd use the little olivine crystals beneath his feet to one day search for extraterrestrial life.

Keep reading Show less