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WNYC Radio, The Takeaway and ProPublica Announce ‘ShovelWatch’

Web site to track and report on stimulus bill spending.

New York, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2009)— As the Senate prepares to vote on President Obama’s stimulus package, one of the biggest questions will be, where will all the money go?

WNYC Radio, The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji, and the investigative newsroom ProPublica today announced the launch of a Web site dedicated to tracking the spending from the bill. Named ShovelWatch, and on the Web at, the site will provide documents, data and original reporting to help citizens monitor the progress and effectiveness of the largest domestic spending bill in U.S. history.

The joint effort is already live on the Web, and currently has investigative news articles, radio segments and interviews and links to other news reports on the subject. Over time, the site will add more special features, such as engaging citizens to help us track how the stimulus funds are being spent in their local communities and to what effect.

“During the debate about this bill, President Obama has promised transparency and accountability so that Americans would know where their tax dollars were going,” said Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica. “We intend to monitor adherence to that pledge and to put in perspective the forthcoming flood of programs and data. We hope that our news organizations will be able to help spot where the new efforts are working—and not working.”

“In addition to watchful journalism and illuminating stories,” said John Keefe, Executive Producer for News at WNYC Radio, “ShovelWatch will provide a platform for citizens to tap into the same data we as journalists are using, investigate projects in their communities, and report back.”

“We know what happens when governments spend a lot of money fast, and it’s often not a pretty picture,” said Andrea Bernstein, Special Projects Editor for The Takeaway. “ShovelWatch is designed to use the power of both our newsrooms, as well as citizens and reporters around the nation, to bring a level of oversight to the stimulus bill that matches the size of the bill itself.”

ShovelWatch represents the second partnership between ProPublica and WNYC Radio. The first was a joint effort that explored the environmental hazards of natural gas drilling in upsate New York and the potential effect it could have on the watershed that supplies New York City’s drinking water.

WNYC 93.9FM and AM 820, the nation’s largest public radio station, reaches more than 1.1 million people each week on air, and extends New York’s cultural riches worldwide via podcasting and streaming on The station produces over 350 hours of original programming each week, including several nationally distributed shows, and broadcasts the best programming from NPR, PRI, American Public Media and the BBC.

The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji is the new national morning news program that delivers the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. Be a part of the American conversation at The Takeaway is a co-production of Public Radio International and WNYC, in editorial collaboration with BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston.

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Working with the largest news staff in American journalism devoted solely to investigative reporting, ProPublica is supported entirely by philanthropy and will provide the articles it produces, free of charge, both through its own Web site and to leading news organizations selected with an eye toward maximizing the impact of each article.

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