Building tools for covering Congressional primaries

Spurring technology innovation in the way elections are covered will be an ongoing initiative at the Knight Lab, and the March 20 primaries in Illinois provide a great place for us to start. (See project page here.)

Thanks to redistricting and successive "wave" elections that brought many new faces to Congress in 2006, 2008, and 2010, there will be hotly contested Republican and Democratic contests throughout the state on March 20, 2012. The races will pit newcomers versus political veterans and current members versus former colleagues.

The Lab will be utilizing technology to analyze websites and social media to help illustrate what candidates stand for and where they are getting their support. By aggregating content from a variety of sources, the Lab aims to offer voters a more comprehensive picture of the races than any single news source can provide on its own.

Digital services that until recently were only on the periphery of campaigns are now often central to candidate strategies, so we'll deploy technology to monitor Twitter, Facebook and the candidates' own web sites to capture and illustrate the language that candidates and the supporters are using as the races take shape.

We'll also aggregate coverage of the elections from widely-dispersed sites and blogs, with the goal of presenting an comprehensive overview of the campaigns in districts that twist across many miles and through multiple media markets.

Our election services will be offered to sites as widgets and pages that media partners can incorporate into their own election coverage as they see fit. The Lab will also operate a demonstration site that includes all of the features offered to partners. Details on the services will be available in January.

-- Mike Silver

About the author

Mike Silver

Executive Director, 2011-2012

Latest Posts

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • How to translate live-spoken human words into computer “truth”

    Our Knight Lab team spent three months in Winter 2018 exploring how to combine various technologies to capture, interpret, and fact check live broadcasts from television news stations, using Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant device as a low-friction way to initiate the process. The ultimate goal was to build an Alexa skill that could be its own form of live, automated fact-checking: cross-referencing a statement from a politician or otherwise newsworthy figure against previously fact-checked statements......

    Continue Reading

  • Northwestern is hiring a CS + Journalism professor

    Work with us at the intersection of media, technology and design.

    Are you interested in working with journalism and computer science students to build innovative media tools, products and apps? Would you like to teach the next generation of media innovators? Do you have a track record building technologies for journalists, publishers, storytellers or media consumers? Northwestern University is recruiting for an assistant or associate professor for computer science AND journalism, who will share an appointment in the Medill School of Journalism and the McCormick School...

    Continue Reading

  • Introducing StorylineJS

    Today we're excited to release a new tool for storytellers.

    StorylineJS makes it easy to tell the story behind a dataset, without the need for programming or data visualization expertise. Just upload your data to Google Sheets, add two columns, and fill in the story on the rows you want to highlight. Set a few configuration options and you have an annotated chart, ready to embed on your website. (And did we mention, it looks great on phones?) As with all of our tools, simplicity...

    Continue Reading

  • Join us in October: NU hosts the Computation + Journalism 2017 symposium

    An exciting lineup of researchers, technologists and journalists will convene in October for Computation + Journalism Symposium 2017 at Northwestern University. Register now and book your hotel rooms for the event, which will take place on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14 in Evanston, IL. Hotel room blocks near campus are filling up fast! Speakers will include: Ashwin Ram, who heads research and development for Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) agent, which powers the...

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More