Develepoed for Leagues Participating in the “Truth in Campaign Advertising” Project

1. Get Prepared

  • Start paying attention to the campaign ads running on your local TV stations and start to form your own opinion about the number of them, the tone, etc. Take note if the stations are running “ad watch” segments where they report on the ads running and assess the accuracy of the ads.
  • Learn more about the LWVUS Truth in Campaign Advertising project by visiting http://www.lwv.org/member-resources/truth-campaign-advertising.
  • Since the League is doing this project in concert with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, also check Annenberg’s site, www.flackcheck.org. Read the background materials, especially the section on “Stand By Your Ad.”
  • Send an email to your local stations through http://www.flackcheck.org/stations/send-email-to-stations/. Sending an email through this link will ensure that you get up-to-date information from Annenberg about the outside group ads running in your community on the presidential race.
  • If you have questions, about the project please email our Project Director, Meredith McGehee at Facts@lwv.org.

2. Reach Out to the local TV Stations

Designate one person or a small team to head up this effort within your League. If there are multiple Leagues within a TV viewing area, touch base and see if you can coordinate your efforts with them.

  • Request a meeting with the General Manager, or, if he/she is not available, the News Director, of the top 4 television stations in your community – the stations affiliated with the 4 main networks. This means your local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC stations. This meeting has 3 purposes:
    • The first is to emphasize to the TV station how important it is for voters to have factual information on which to base their decisions on Election Day. The League has considerable credibility on this point, and you are speaking to the station for the good of the broader community.
    • In that context, the second purpose is fact finding – to learn what, if any, procedure each station has to ensure the accuracy of campaign ads paid for by outside groups, and if so, how it is being implemented.
    • Relatedly, you should urge the local station to run “Fact-checking” segments in its news programs to objectively assess the accuracy of campaign ads. A “Guide to Effective Fact Checking On-Air and Online” has been created by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

See detailed talking points on these issues

3. Reach out to Local Newspaper(s) and others

  • Request a meeting with the editorial board of your local newspaper to inform them about the Truth in Campaign Advertising project and to urge them to agree that TV stations should do what they can to minimize false “outside group” ads and to do their own “fact-checking” news stories.
  • Using templates available from http://www.lwv.org/member-resources/truth-campaign-advertising, personalize an op-ed and Letters to the Editor (LTEs) for your community and attempt to place them in your local newspaper.
  • And put out pieces on social media - Twitter, Facebook and/or local blogs.

4. Following Up

  • Request a meeting with any of the stations that have not advised the League of their procedure regarding the accuracy of campaign ads run by outside groups. Urge them again to do so if they have not. Thank them if they have. You might write them a thank-you letter, or put a “thank-you” out through social media.
  • Also, request a follow up meeting with the local newspaper editorial board if they have not done an endorsement editorial or done any “fact-checking” stories.
  • Continue to place op-eds and letters-to-the-editor in local newspapers

5. Invite the Community to Get the Facts

  • Continue to watch your 4 top local TV stations with a sharp eye. Watch the news programs on those stations and take note if they are running “fact checking” segments where they report on the accuracy of the ads running..
  • Monitor whether newspapers have editorialized on this topic and/or the Truth in Campaign Advertising project.
  • Invite the public to express their desire to have stations provide them with factual information – through signing this online petition.
  • Direct the public to League sources of information such as your voter guides, candidate debates/forums and VOTE411.

6. Let Us Know Your Results

Right after your meeting, please fill out this easy report form to LWVUS Project Director Meredith McGehee summarizing the results of your meetings with the TV stations and newspapers, as well as any actions they have taken.

Doing this report shortly after you meet not only helps you share it accurately, but it also becomes part of the League and APPC’s national understanding of what the media is doing.

General Timeline

Early September: Request a meeting with your local television stations.

Mid September:

  • Meet with local television stations about the Truth in Campaign Advertising project.
  • Ask Editor of local newspapers to endorse the Truth in Campaign Advertising project concepts for TV stations.

From Mid September to Mid October: Place op-eds and letters to the editor in local newspapers; monitor campaign ads running on TV stations and stations’ “ad watch” activities.

Early October: Request a follow-up meeting with TV station and newspapers as needed.

Until Nov. 6: Monitor TV stations’ ads and “adwatch” activities. Monitor whether newspapers have editorialized on this topic and/or the Truth in Campaign Advertising project.

Throughout and Until Nov. 21: Report to LWVUS on results through easy report form.

Click here to listen to Meredith McGeehee discuss her work with LWV on the Truth in Campagin Advertising project.  In this short video, she discusses what YOU can do!