Cost Effectiveness of the Most Widely Cited Think Tanks

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Cost Effectiveness of the Most Widely Cited Think Tanks

CEPR is #1 in Media Hits and Web Traffic in 2008

WASHINGTON - The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) moved up from
25th most-cited to 15th most-cited in the annual survey of think tanks
compiled by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).1 Of the 25 think tanks in the FAIR study,
our analysis shows that CEPR was once again the most cost-effective
think tank in 2008 measured by both media citations and web traffic. It
ranked first in media citations per budget dollar for the fifth
consecutive year. It also ranked first in web traffic per budget
dollar. CEPR has been first in web traffic per budget dollar in three
of the last five years, while in the other two years it came in second.

In terms of media citations per budget dollar, the Lexington Institute
and the Economic Policy Institute remained in second and third,
respectively, for the second year in a row. While the think tanks in
the third through tenth positions were closely bunched, there was a
large gap in the number of media hits per dollar between the number
three and number four positions, with the Economic Policy Institute
getting more than twice the citations per budget dollar as the
Inter-American Dialogue.

In a year that saw an across-the-board drop in web traffic per budget
dollar, CEPR was once again the most cost-effective, with a ratio of
web traffic to budget of 1.99. CEPR was followed closely by the Cato
Institute with a 1.88 rating. The next three think tanks were the
Heritage Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute, and the New America
Foundation.
 
The big budget think tanks (e.g. the Brookings Institution, the
Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute) dominated
news coverage because of their size. However, they are also becoming
somewhat more efficient, with CATO ranking second in web traffic per
budget dollar and Heritage ranking third.

The following tables compare the cost effectiveness of the top 25
most-cited think tanks in 2008, based on a Nexis search conducted by
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The first table compares
media citations in 2008 to budgets for 2007, the most recent year for
which budgets were available for all organizations. The second table
compares web reach over the last 3 months to the organizational budgets
for 2007.
 
Table 1 shows that CEPR led in media citations per budget dollar, with
1.85 citations per $10,000, according to FAIR's calculation. The
Lexington Institute had 1.15 citations per $10,000, and the Economic
Policy Institute had 0.96 citations.

Media Ciations per Dollar

Table 2 shows that CEPR ranked first in cost effectiveness of web
traffic with a rating of 1.99. The CATO Institute ranked second, with a
rating of 1.88, and the Economic Policy Institute ranked third, with a
rating of 1.62.

Website Usage per Dollar

Appendix

Media Citations: The number of media citations for 2008 was taken from Dolny, Michael. "Right Ebbs, Left Gains as 'Media Experts'." Extra! September 3, 2009. FAIR used Nexis to determine media citations.

Internet Reach: Internet reach was taken from daily reach statistics
found on Alexa.com. The daily average over the prior three months was
used, as reported on September 14, 2009.
 
Think Tank Budgets: FY2007 budgets are defined as the total
organization expenses listed in the tax forms filed by each think tank
and were obtained from:

  • Charity Navigator
    (American Enterprise Institute, Aspen Institute, Brookings, Carter
    Center, Cato Institute, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Center
    on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center for Strategic and International
    Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Economic Policy Institute,
    Heritage Foundation, Institute for International Economics,
    Inter-American Dialogue, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, New
    America Foundation, RAND Corporation)
  • GuideStar
    (Carnegie Endowment, Center for American Progress, Joint Center for
    Political and Economic Studies, Kaiser Family Foundation, Lexington
    Institute, Public Policy Institute of California, Urban Institute),
  • or its own website (Hoover Institute)
  • The Center for Politics declined to disclose its budgetary data.

This analysis uses budgets for 2007 because data for 2008 were not available for most of the think tanks in FAIR's study.

FAIR Think Tank Rankings (Media Citations):

Citations of Think Tanks in Media


End Notes

  1. Dolny, Michael.  "Right Ebbs, Left Gains as 'Media Experts'." Extra! 09/03/09.
  2. Political orientation is based on FAIR's evaluation of published work and media comments.
  3. Media citations are from Dolny, Michael.  "Right Ebbs, Left Gains as 'Media Experts." Extra! 09/03/09.
  4. Think
    Tank budgets are for Fiscal year 2007, the most recent year available.
    Fiscal years vary according to organizational calendar.
  5. Political orientation is based on FAIR's evaluation of published work and media comments.
  6. Website
    usage is expressed as numbers of users per million (daily internet
    reach) as determined by Alexa.com  Daily internet reach is calculated
    as an average over a three-month period ending on September 14, 2009.
  7. Cost
    effectiveness of web traffic is a ratio of the percentage of site
    visitors of a given organization (as determined by Alexa.com) and the
    organization's budget.
  8. Think
    Tank budgets are for Fiscal Year 2007, the most recent year available.
    Fiscal years vary according to organizational calendar.

View this publication on CEPR's website (includes sharing tools).

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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