Making Connections: Public Legislator Database

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. In 2016, The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting created a searchable database on local lawmakers’ private financial interests, sponsored legislation, and committee appointments to make this information more accessible to the public. Learn more in their guide and the original announcement.

Ghost Boat

In June 2014, 243 refugees fled Libya on a boat bound for Italy. The boat never arrived. In 2015, Medium launched the Ghost Boat project, a crowdsourced “hackathon” effort to find out what happened. The cornerstone of the Ghost Boat project is a website where investigative journalist Eric Reidy posts in-depth articles documenting the search. Interested contributors are given guides and a repository of information gathered so far. The investigation was suspended in December 2016 pending additional leads. Learn more.

Bay State Ballot Question Hackathon

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. The New England Center for Investigative Reporting held a series of community journalism hackathons focused on campaign contributions for four state ballot items. 65 people came to first hackathon, where they tested an app that allowed them to scour campaign contributions. The study of state contributions data revealed newsworthy nuggets, producing a series of stories for the NECIR’s The Eye and WGBH.

Six Words

In 2014, ProPublica launched its Six Words youth engagement project in partnership with The Race Card Project. This project responded to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ending “separate but equal” legislation, and focused on two Alabama high schools—one integrated, one all-black. ProPublica reporters invited students from each school to meet and share their experiences around the re-segregation happening in their communities and photograph their experiences in school.

Bridging Divides

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting created the Bridging Divides project, which brought “Fractured Lands” reporter Scott Anderson to K-12 schools and colleges across the country. They built a series of lessons on their online Lesson Builder for teachers to use in the classroom, which has received over 14,000 page views. Chicago students produced children’s books based on the characters in Scott’s reporting — and presented the work to elementary-school students.

followtheleader.today

This summary is from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connectors Studio. Texas-based community newspaper Rains County Leader recently launched a new web platform called followtheleader.today. The platform is a blog-forum hybrid that allows readers to comment and interact with stories published by Rains County Leader staff as well as interact with one another. The objective behind the new platform is to allow the newspaper to stay in direct communication with the community it serves.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

Launched in 2015 by StoryCorps, the Great Thanksgiving Listen project focuses on empowering high school students to create and preserve a contemporary oral history of the United States. Participating high school students are tasked with recording an interview with an elder family member or friend over Thanksgiving about their life experiences in the United States using the StoryCorps mobile app. Recorded stories can then be submitted to StoryCorps, where they will be published on the StoryCorps website and entered into the Library of Congress records.

Vermont Election Guide

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Nonprofit News and Dot Connector Studio. During the 2016 election cycle, VTDigger hosted a candidate roster that featured contact information, issues platforms, and campaign finance data for both the primary and general election races. This information was supplied by candidates (in response to a survey from VTDigger) and campaign finance reports filed with the Vermont Secretary of State. Check out their 2016 project announcement, Candidate Comparison tool, Legislative Candidate Guide, and Statewide Candidate Guide.

Calls from Home

For over ten years, Kentucky-based Mountain Community Radio (WMMT) has been producing the weekly radio program Calls from Home, which sends messages and call-outs to prison inmates in Central Appalachia. WMMT records the messages (often from friends and family members), and then broadcasts them on air for prisoners listening in. Calls from Home has been featured by WNYC, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, The American Prospect, Here & Now, and others.

Hurricane Irma Map

Launched by The New Tropic in collaboration with WLRN and The Miami Foundation, the Hurricane Irma Map is a crowd-sourced mapping tool that allows users to search for and add information about resources and impacts in their area. Before Hurricane Irma, the content primarily focused on storm preparation resources. During and after the hurricane, the tool refocused on reports of storm damage and environmental hazards, as well as where to find or participate in relief operations. Learn more in “The New Tropic teamed up with an NPR station to help Florida residents find shelter from Hurricane Irma (and survey the damage after) by Ren LaForme (Poynter; September 7, 2017).