Today, Knight Foundation is announcing 17 winners of the Knight News Challenge on Data at a convening at Civic Hall in New York. Each of the winners will receive a share of $3.2 million to develop their project, which seeks to answer the question: How might we make data work for individuals and communities?
As our world becomes increasingly data-rich, Knight Foundation hopes to identify and support innovators, entrepreneurs, institutions and journalists working to unlock useful information in ways that promote stronger and more knowledgeable communities. The winning projects cover a range of topics—from data literacy to transparency, crowdsourcing, privacy and data visualization. The common thread is that they are all seeking ways of using data to help people make better decisions that affect their lives.
Few citizens have direct contact with their candidates and elected officials. As such, the media and other sources are what keep them informed about politicians both on the campaign trail and once they are in office. To give citizens more information and help journalists improve their political coverage, the Reese News Lab will create a searchable archive of campaign speech transcripts that provides users with customized keyword alerts. It will use crowdsourcing and computer natural language processing to gather recordings of speeches and generate transcripts, enabling subscribers to search for exact words spoken by politicians. Users can also monitor political speeches remotely, providing easy access. In addition, it will alert subscribers when custom keywords are spoken on the campaign trail. The archive will be piloted in North Carolina.
Voters are exposed to large amounts of campaign advertising, especially in key swing states. Though these ads are designed to influence and sway votes, little information is provided about their background and accuracy. To hold candidates accountable and bring more transparency to the voting process, the Internet Archive, with the world’s largest open archive of TV news, will create a public library of TV news and political ads from key 2016 primary election regions. The library will be paired with nonpartisan fact-checking and other analysis from PolitiFact, the University of Pennsylvania’s FactCheck.org, The Center for Public Integrity and others. Ads will be tracked along with facts about their accuracy, source, frequency and context. These widely distributed library resources will provide voters with trustworthy information and encourage greater participation in the political process.
Local governments produce information that is important to voters. However, there are few communications avenues for people to access this information and engage with their local governments to help shape policy and decision-making. To tackle this issue, the Center for Technology and Civic Life will develop a civic engagement toolkit, designed in concert with local election officials. The kit will include a set of tools for election offices such as an election website template, visual icons and illustrations, resource allocation calculators, and other tools. It will help local officials identify how to best use communication tools, and measure the reach and impact of the information they are sharing.
Lack of information about the voting process, candidates and issues, especially in local elections, can limit voter participation and prevent people from making informed choices at the polls. Informed Voting From Start to Finish will combine the voter services and timely reminders of TurboVote with local guides from e.thePeople, to provide comprehensive voting support, including registration assistance, election reminders, poll locators, explanations of contests and ballot questions, and candidate information.