Looking again at the numbers; when journalists contribute to campaigns, causes

Dateline: Sun 24 Jun 2007

An alert reader reports that the MSNBC.com poll of journalists and campaign contributions is a little more damning that Dennis Ryerson of the Star lets on in his pompous Sunday column. The reader points out that 300 journalists were surveyed; 144 responded. Of those, 125 contributed to Dem candidates and/or left-wing causes; 16 gave to to the GOP. One person gave to both.

Anyhow, 144 out of 300 is a little more significant than what Ryerson claims in his misleading piece. Ryerson criticizes the original report on a statistical basis. He says: There are 55,000 print journalists and 30,000 in broadcasting.

"Of those more than 80,000 journalists, only 144, or fewer than .0020 percent were on MSNBC.com's list," he writes.

"(Or, put another way, 99.9980 percent OF JOURNALISTS DID THE RIGHT THING and made no federal political contributions," he concludes.

Totally absurd, misleading and illogical. Here is the actual story, explaining the metodology in the MSNBC poll:

"There are more who gave

"Not every donor is identified

"There appear to be far more than 144 donating journalists, but MSNBC.com limited its search to:

Federal candidates, PACs and parties in the records of the Federal Election Commission, not the separate state campaign records.

The period January 2004 through the first quarter of this year.

Donors in news jobs, not corporate executives or publishers, who are allowed by nearly every news organization to donate.

"Campaigns are spotty about reporting the occupation and employer of donors. The law requires only that campaigns make a good-faith effort to request the information from donors.

"Our first search of the records used job titles: "editor," "anchor" and so on. Because often no job title is reported, we also searched using the names of news companies. Smaller companies were not checked; for example, we checked only the company names of the 200 largest newspapers, out of more than 1,400 dailies in the nation.

"Small donations may not be in the records. Many candidates report only donations of $200 or more. Reporting of smaller donations is optional but is becoming more common with electronic filing of campaign reports to the FEC.

"Then, with a list of about 300 apparent journalists, we tried to contact them all. The list published here includes only those who either confirmed that they made the donation or did not respond. Many journalists who changed jobs since the donations were not contacted and are not included here."

Thanks to my reader for pointing out that MSNBC.com identified 300 apparent journalists as campaign contributors, and got 144 to respond to their questions.

And here is the link identifying those journalists who ponied up, including two from the Fort Wayne News Sentinel and the rest of the usual subjects...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19113455/

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