(MIDDLETOWN, CT) October 29, 2014 – Interest group advertising in U.S. Senate campaigns is at an all-time high, and advertising from dark money groups is breaking records. America’s airwaves are filled with much more negativity than they were a decade ago. AttackAds.org, a new initiative from the Wesleyan Media Project, launches today. The initiative, made possible by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, includes an educational website, a parody ad about negativity and unknown group sponsors, and a short documentary that defines attack advertising, highlights trends in its use and explains its link to dark money. The website also contains graphics describing trends in the use of attack advertising and a quiz about attack advertising.
“Attack ads have attacked our airwaves in record numbers,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a supporter of the Wesleyan Media Project. “Politicians of all stripes are free to use them — but, thankfully, informed voters are free to ignore them. Wesleyan’s Media Project has become the best source of facts about the negativity invading political advertising.”
The Wesleyan Media Project was established in 2010 with support from Knight Foundation. Its primary goals are to increase transparency in elections, educate voters and serve as a resource for journalists and policymakers. Since its founding, the project has tracked and analyzed all broadcast advertisements aired on behalf of federal and statewide election candidates in all of the country’s media markets. So far this cycle, hundreds of news articles have cited the project’s data, frequently quoting analysis from the project’s co-directors.
The new initiative, AttackAds.org, is designed more explicitly for the public to help provide information on negativity, outside interest groups and campaign finance.
About Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn., is known for the excellence of its academic and co-curricular programs. With more than 2,900 undergraduates and 200 graduate students, Wesleyan is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education characterized by boldness, rigor and practical idealism.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
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