Electionland

Electionland

Organisation: ProPublica and The Electionland Coalition (United States)

Publication Date: 04/10/2017

Applicant(s)

Description

Electionland was the largest journalism collaboration ever dedicated to covering a single breaking news event. We had 1,100 journalists working on and before Election Day on Nov. 8: About 600 journalism school students found and verified social media reports of Election problems, more than 100 professional journalists staffed a live newsroom at CUNY Journalism School on Nov. 8 sending story leads to about 400 local journalists around the country.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

Electionland was a very large scale use of social media verification techniques and a particularly sharp example of newsrooms collaborating even in a breaking news situation. It yielded hundreds of stories on Election Day nationwide. Real-world impact was significant. A few examples: -Voters in New York and Atlanta who had denied access to the ballot had their ability to vote restored. -The New York City Board of Elections phone hotline was fixed after we told them it was unavailable. -Texas poll workers who were giving incorrect information were set straight. -Misleading information published by Urban Outfitters was taken down. But perhaps the project’s biggest impact was that it provided an immediate and authoritative rebuttal to suggestions that the vote had been “rigged” or that there had been widespread intimidation of people going to the polls. In a hotly contentious election in which the facts themselves seemed to be in dispute, hard evidence was an extraordinary public service.

Technologies used for this project:

-Custom tools to support large scale collaboration and social media verification, written in Python/Django, Ruby on Rails, and Javascript. -Collaboration made extensive use of Slack (1,100+ users across 400 news organizations) -Amazon AWS, Docker and Kubernetes stack -Made extensive use of application programming interfaces (APIs) from ProPublica, FiveThirtyEight, Google and the Huffington Post. -Social Media Newsgathering using Check by Meedan, Dataminr, Facebook Signal, CrowdTangle, Google Trends, Twitter Moments and Tweetdeck location search, Krzana.

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