Ad Buys: FCC Data and (Partial) Transparency

Data about political advertising historically have been difficult to access, though recently the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) began implementing new disclosure requirements for TV stations.


FCC data allow for the examination of campaign spending in the Iowa Senate race. More about these graphs below.

Who advertises and how much they spend intrigues political observers, not to mention campaign competitors.  Intrigue aside, this information is important for a democratic system aspiring to offer candidates equal access to paid broadcast media – and to put some stops on the ability of the broadcasters to pad their own pockets.

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Dazzling New Resource for the Discussion of Data


One of the monikers that history allots the early 21st century may be “The Age of Data”—not big data or little data—not quantitative data or qualitative data, but data of all sizes and shapes. The vast proliferation of information, particularly that which is now digitally available, provides scholars, students, and the general public both exciting new opportunities for exploration and significant challenges.

Today Grinnell’s Data Analysis and Social Inquiry Lab (known as DASIL, which we pronounce DAZZLE) is inaugurating a resource to assist faculty, students, and anyone else fascinated with data in their exploration of the world. A blog will initiate discussions of ways to find data, appropriate methods for evaluating data quality, and ideas about the analysis and visualization of both quantitative and qualitative data. Resources pages will provide, primarily interactive, visualizations of a wide range of data and data types. Eventually these will be augmented with data sets and class exercises that faculty at Grinnell have prepared and invite others to use and modify as desired.

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