The Washington Post and others relied on a bare boned Associated Press story on the report.


There’s more work to be done.

For obvious starters, this Virginia Public Access Project report looked at spending by the outside groups, not the spending by the campaigns and the parties themselves. How much are these entities spending in Virginia, and how does that compare with the outside group spending?

Another helpful but easy use of the data would be to provide a breakdown of spending in an individual market, as Roanoke did, but to take it a step further and explore why groups on the right or left are targeting their particular message to your market.

Spending in the high-profile Senate race between two former governors—George Allen, the Republican, and Tim Kaine, the Democrat—also warrants more than the cursory look it was given today.

The Project reported that outside groups have spent $3.2 million on ads against Democrat Kaine, while pro-Kaine spending by outside groups is a bit more than $1 million. Meanwhile anti-Allen spending by outside groups tops $2 million. And there has been no spending so far by outside groups for ads supporting Allen. Why? This looks like a ripe topic for some additional reporting.

There are examples to draw from, since some nice work has already been done in following the political advertising money in Virginia.

For example, The Roanoke Times in July took an extensive look at spending in its market.

And The Associated Press, in mid-August, offered a nice summation on why the Commonwealth has been targeted for political advertising.

More will surely follow. The latest work by the Virginia Public Access Project offers an excellent starting point.

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Tharon Giddens logged more than two decades in newspapers in Georgia and South Carolina as a writer and editor. He is now living on an alpaca farm east of Richmond, Virginia.