Let's start with the Franklin Center's new Citizen Watchdog program to engage every day citizens in monitoring and reporting on their local governments. From their website:
An engaged, citizen-driven media was one of the driving forces behind the birth of American democracy. The preservation of our republic is incumbent upon the continued participation of our public in observing, reporting, and holding our government accountable at all levels.
Today, we face an abundance of challenges and opportunities. Challenges because the decline of the establishment media has been occurring at an alarming rate, with tens of thousands of journalists losing their jobs over the last few years. Opportunities because the public now has access to more tools that allow them to actively participate in government, and to make their voice heard to the public at large, than at any time before in our history.
The greatest threats to our freedom and prosperity occur when citizens lack information and government officials escape without accountability. It’s at the school board and city council meetings where no reporters are present to cover their activities, and no members of the public present to observe their conduct.
The Franklin Center is dedicated to preserving and strengthening democracy through promoting citizen journalism and engaging the stakeholders of America’s future to serve as watchdogs at the local, state, and federal level.
Our aim is to equip as many citizens as possible with the tools and skills to shine a light on government and ensure that the public is well informed about the decisions being made each day that directly impact their lives.
We have several local examples of people doing their part, including Sherry who attends Toledo City Council Meetings, takes notes and then shares them with us here on this blog.
It doesn't take much, since many are already attending meetings across the county - and anyone who share their meeting notes here is welcome to do so.
Protect Your Voice, also from the Franklin Center, is the second item, intended to help bloggers and citizen activists who report on government actions and officials.
As Franklin Center explains:
Cuts are happening in newsrooms across the country. According to the American Journalism Review’s 2009 analysis of statehouse reporters, there were 30 percent less reporters covering government than when last compared to 2003. While there hasn’t been a comparable report since to prove the continuing trend, any seasoned reporter can attest to the continued cuts by walking in a news room or a press conference.
This is a threat to democracy.
Fortunately, a new wave of energized reporters has been filling those vacancies out of passion- many unpaid. These bloggers are dedicated to informing their citizenry of its elected officials’ actions.
Because of this, we believe they deserve the same protections as reporters in the court room.
We’re not referring to careless, reckless bloggers writing about anything their heart desires. We aim to protect the bloggers that are reporting on acts of government as meticulously and honestly as the journalist sitting next to him or her at the press conference.
Times have changed and it’s time for the law to adjust. Sign the
petition now to show your support for Bloggers and Citizen Journalists who are looking out for your best interest.
For more on this, check out Franklin Center President Jason Stverak's latest column.
These two efforts are key in defending our freedom and our responsibility to ensure government works in a limited way on our behalf. But in order to defend freedom, you must understand freedom. We The People HQ will help you do just that.
"We the People is the citizen’s guide to understanding freedom. It is a project of the State Policy Network that aims to arm citizens with a deeper understanding of the roots of their liberty. We the People is series of educational stories about American founding principles, the Constitution, and economic freedom in the form of curriculum, videos, podcasts, and blog posts."
The Buckeye Institute and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, two organizations frequently mentioned here, are Ohio members of SPN.
From We The People:
We stand at the beginning of a great awakening. More and more Americans are discovering what they don’t know about their own history and their nation’s founding principles. And they want to learn. We the People is a three-volume, twelve-part program that will provide what these citizens need: a framework for understanding where we came from and where we need to go. The objective is not simply reverence of America’s founding principles, but to bring those living principles to the center of American politics today.
Our first course, "Founding Principles of Freedom," begins by looking through the lens of the early patriots of Lexington and understanding why they fought. The articles delve into our founding documents and unwrap the essential components of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. However, there is more to the story. Episode 3 uncovers the attack on these principles for more than one hundred years.
There is a fourth episode, “To Conserve Liberty: The Movement to Restore American Principles."
I hope you'll check out these great new resources and join the effort to share information and educate your friends and neighbors on the critical issues of the day. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said - our Founders gave us a Republic and it's up to us to keep it.