How PBS documentary ‘As Goes Janesville’ inspired the corporate responsibility app BizVizz

By Natan Edelsburg 

Three months ago, “As Goes Janesville” premiered as part of PBS’s Independent Lens series. The film explores the struggle of Janesville, Wisconsin since the economy began its nosedive in 2008. The producers of the film, 371 Productions will launch on February 4th (in conjunction with the documentary’s rebroadcast) BizVizz “a transmedia component of the As Goes Janesville project.” 

Both a website and an app, BizVizz allows you to take a picture of a company’s logo, and then it tells you who makes the product, what percentage corporate tax the company pays (in relation to the standard 35% corporate tax it should pay), to which party it has decided to give political contributions to, how it compares to competitors in its industry, its profits, and the subsidies it has received form the government.

The app allows you to share the information across Twitter and Facebook, and sends you messages about how to get involved with corporate accountability campaigns and projects. It is certainly an interesting strategy to release the app four months after the film’s premiere, but as people download the app and see that a film inspired it, it might help sustain ‘As Goes Janesville’s’ buzz over a longer period of time. For those who would like to fact-check, and potentially make purchasing decisions based on, how companies behave when it comes to corporate and social responsibility, both the film and app are good places to start.