Electionland, a reporting initiative bringing together a coalition of news organisations in the United States, launches today to improve coverage of the voting experience in the upcoming US presidential elections.
Developed by non-profit newsroom ProPublica in partnership with organisations including Google News Lab, the USA Today Network, First Draft, Univision News, WNYC and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Electionland will monitor data from social media and other sources to highlight issues experienced during the voting process.
"It's going to help reporters around the country cover voting problems in a way that normally they could only do afterwards," said Scott Klein, deputy managing editor, ProPublica.
"We're going to be receiving data from a bunch of different sources – we're calling each of these sources a signal.
"There will be a team of journalism students who work to verify and to gather these signals that they're getting into real leads."
The sources include Facebook Signal, Twitter, Google Trends, and data from the Election Protection project, an initiative of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that takes calls about voting issues from voters around the United States.
Electionland will operate from a pop-up newsroom established on 8 November at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and ProPublica editors and reporters will oversee the work.
Once the data is verified by the student journalists, who will be trained by the First Draft coalition, the leads will be sent to reporters who can then follow up on issues highlighted in their area.
Journalists who would like to receive these alerts can sign up for free to the database on ProPublica's website.
Electionland aims to enable journalists to cover issues such as long lines at the polls, malfunctioning machines or voter fraud, which reporters usually cover after the vote if at all, in a more time-efficient way throughout Election Day.
As part of its initiative to improve election coverage, today ProPublica is also launching Election DataBot, an interactive database that makes sense of election data such as campaign finance, race competitiveness or forecasting, by filtering it and turning it into "everyday sentences".
"If a campaign does something, or files something, or if a poll changes about the campaign, you'll know as fast as it's possible to know. You'll be able to get an alert on your phone or just park on the page and watch the changes," said Klein.
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