SourceWatch (formerly Disinfopedia), is an internet site which is a "collaborative project" of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). It was created by the CMD's research director, Sheldon Rampton. According to the project's website, it "aims to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests."[1]

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The sponsor of SourceWatch is the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a nonprofit American-based news media research group founded in 1993 by environmentalist writer and political activist John Stauber. In addition to SourceWatch, CMD publishes PR Watch, a quarterly newsletter edited by Laura A. Miller. The creator of SourceWatch, Sheldon Rampton, is CMD's research director.Template:See

Mission statement[edit | edit source]

According to SourceWatch, it aims:

to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. A primary purpose of SourceWatch is documenting the PR and propaganda activities of public relations firms and public relations professionals engaged in managing and manipulating public perception, opinion and policy. SourceWatch also includes profiles on think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests. Over time, SourceWatch has broadened to include others involved in public debates including media outlets, journalists and government agencies. Unlike some other wikis, SourceWatch has a policy of strict referencing, and is overseen by a paid editor.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Rampton created SourceWatch on January 15, 2003, and launched it publicly with 200 articles on March 10, 2003. According to SourceWatch's own statistics, it included over 15,000 articles as of March 2007.[2] The content of Sourcewatch is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Editorial and security policies[edit | edit source]

The editor of SourceWatch is Bob Burton, who began to edit it part-time in October 2003. As its editor, Burton, who also serves as the project's main contact person, provides oversight as a public relations analyst.[3] The stated goals for registered users who are permitted to edit SourceWatch are "accuracy and fairness."[4] Its editorial guidelines stress the importance of maintaining the accuracy of its source citations and admonish its editors to "Be fair".[5]

Sourcewatch is available on the web as a wiki, maintained by a community of interested users worldwide. When SourceWatch began, any visitor to the site could edit existing articles and create new ones. In April 2006, however, SourceWatch changed its policy, henceforth requiring users to register and log in before editing its articles and restricting unregistered visitors to reading articles only.[1]

The Center for Media and Democracy sets the editorial and "security policies" under which SourceWatch operates. SourceWatch provides recommended editorial guidelines to its users but reserves privileges to modify content and to delete articles for its administrators, referred to (as in other wikis) as "Sysops".[1][6] Information about "administrators" ("sysops") in SourceWatch is hyperlinked via its "FAQ".[7]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Praise[edit | edit source]

  • Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire, writes: As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, CMD's SourceWatch is an invaluable resource.[8]

  • Canadian freelance journalist and science writer Zoe Cormier writes: Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without the CMD Center for Media and Democracy and your fabulous websites.[8][9]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

Alan Caruba, a corporate public relations counselor[10], vocal global warming skeptic[11], and founder of the National Anxiety Center, writes "Source Watch is a project of the Center of Media & Democracy, a left-wing organization that devotes a lot of time to attacking the public relations profession in general and conservative writers in particular."[12]

Elizabeth Solomont of the New York Sun describes SourceWatch as "a left-leaning group" (The New York Sun is generally considered a right-leaning newspaper).[13]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


External links[edit | edit source]

cs:SourceWatch de:SourceWatch it:SourceWatch hu:SourceWatch nl:SourceWatch


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Editorial Policy," SourceWatch, last updated May 23, 2007, accessed June 25, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 About SourceWatch (Site history).
  3. "Bob Burton", PR Watch, Center for Media and Democracy, December 24, 2006, accessed June 25, 2007.
  4. SourceWatch: Article guidelines", SourceWatch, accessed June 25, 2007.
  5. For more information, see "Generally accepted policies" and, particularly, "Be fair" (and related links), SourceWatch, accessed June 25, 2007.
  6. For further information about editing and security policies, see also: "SourceWatch: How to Fix an Error", SourceWatch: "Errors and Complaints", and "Security", both accessed June 25, 2007.
  7. "FAQ", SourceWatch, accessed June 25, 2007; see "SourceWatch:List of Administrators". (It appears not to be specified at such links the procedure whereby SourceWatch users acquire status and privileges as administrators. For such administrative policies in Wikipedia, cf. Sysops. SourceWatch states in its section in "Generally accepted policies" on "How are these policies formulated?" that its policies and guidelines are based "by and large" on those of Wikipedia. There appears to be no featured link, however, to specific policies governing the granting of "sysops" ("administrator") status to SourceWatch users. It may not be clear to a SourceWatch user, therefore, how such sysops are nominated and approved.)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Homepage of Sourcewatch, aaccessed June 25, 2007.
  9. See Biography of Zoe Cormier on her website for related information.
  10. Alan Caruba, "Caruba's credentials", The Caruba Organization, accessed June 25, 2007.
  11. Alan Caruba, "Warning Signs: "Global warming on steroids", National Anxiety Center, January 3, 2007.
  12. Alan Caruba, "Smearing Conservative Writers", online posting, expertclick.com, rpt. news release (letter), National Anxiety Center, January 29, 2006, accessed June 25, 2007.
  13. "Big Pharma Readies Effort To Counter Moore's 'Sicko'", The New York Sun, June 20, 2007: 2, accessed June 25, 2007 (3 pages).
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