UNC program wins grant to track campaign speech

Posted July 22, 2015

Elizabeth Bartholf, a student with UNC's Reese News Lab, works on Capitol Hound, a service make transcripts of General Assembly sessions searchable (courtesy of Reese News Lab).

— A group made up of students and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will receive a $150,000 grant to develop a project to help track political speeches on the campaign trail.

The Reese News Lab, an experimental media research project housed in the UNC School of Media and Journalism, was one of 22 winners of the Knight News Challenge on elections for an application called Campaign Hound. The grant program, run by the nonprofit Knight Foundation, was designed to accelerate ideas to inform voters and increase civic participation.

Using crowd-sourced recordings and transcripts, Campaign Hound will archive speeches from political candidates, allowing users to search and set up custom alerts.

"Campaign Hound can and will help us hold our officials more accountable," John Clark, executive director of the lab, said in a statement. "It will turn the daily horse race into something more."

The service will be targeted at media organizations and will begin with a pilot in North Carolina.

“This tool will help media outlets provide accurate, impartial analysis of campaign speeches across North Carolina,” Reese News Lab Associate Director Sara Peach said in the statement.

It's not the first time the lab has earned a grant from the Knight Foundation. A $35,000 grant from the nonprofit's prototype fund helped the team build Capitol Hound, an online service that offers searchable transcripts and custom alerts for proceedings of the North Carolina General Assembly.


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