There appear to be far more than 144 journalists making campaign contributions, but msnbc.com limited its search to:
- Federal candidates, PACs and parties in the records of the Federal Election Commission, not the separate state campaign records.
- The period January 2004 through the first quarter of this year.
- Donors in news jobs, not corporate executives or publishers, who are allowed by nearly every news organization to donate.
Campaigns are spotty about reporting the occupation and employer of donors. The law requires only that campaigns make a good-faith effort to request the information from donors.
Our first search of the records used job titles: "editor," "anchor" and so on. Because often no job title is reported, we also searched using the names of news companies. Smaller companies were not checked; for example, we checked only the company names of the 200 largest newspapers, out of more than 1,400 dailies in the nation.
Small donations may not be in the records. Many candidates report only donations of $200 or more. Reporting of smaller donations is optional but is becoming more common with electronic filing of campaign reports to the FEC.
Then, with a list of about 300 apparent journalists, we tried to contact them all. The list published here includes only those who either confirmed that they made the donation or did not respond. Many journalists who changed jobs since the donations were not contacted and are not included here.
The final list represents a tiny percentage of the working journalists in the nation. Daily newspapers alone employ about 60,000 full-time journalists. Approximately 30,000 work in television news jobs and 10,000 in radio news.