Exploring the entries in Knight News Challenge: Elections

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The first Knight News Challenge of 2015 opened on Feb. 25 with the question, How might we better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections? We looked to inspire people to not only submit ideas, but also to contribute to broader discussions on improving our democracy.

The challenge was met with an overwhelming level of engagement, resulting in more than 1,000 ideas being submitted to newschallenge.org. Submissions came from an impressive mix of teams. A group of external readers are currently helping us evaluate every submission through April 13. Although the submission window is closed, the  #newschallenge conversation continues.

For the second year in a row, Matt Miller (@thisismmiller) of the New York Public Library Labs), analyzed the submissions. Writing Python source code (available on GitHub here), Matt scraped all the submission data from the website, compiled it into a data set and generated several visualizations. Again, City Tracking, a 2010 Knight News Challenge winner, created the map tiles that Matt used to generate the analysis, Stamen’s Toner.

According to Matt's work, the Knight News Challenge received submissions from 43 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. In addition to North American submissions, there were contributors from five other continents:

  • North America: Canada (British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Trinidad.
  • South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela.
  • Africa: Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda
  • Asia: Armenia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and Kyrgyzstan
  • Europe: Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom
  • Oceania: Australia

Matt also evaluated the most frequently mentioned nouns, phrases and verbs used across all the submissions. The most frequently mentioned noun was “voter,” followed by “community,” which also placed second for the News Challenge on Libraries. The most frequently mentioned noun phrases were “social media” and “young people”; and the most frequently mentioned verb was “make,” followed by “provide.” In the libraries challenge “provide” and “create” were most frequently mentioned.

To take a look at these, the other visualizations or to download the complete data set used to create Matt’s analysis please visit the New York Public Library Labs’ website.

We want to encourage further engagement, and increase the accessibility of the submissions so more people add their voice to the proces. For this reason, here is the basic information on all the submissions, including location, in xls and csv format for download.

Please continue exploring the submissions and discussing how we can improve our democracy. Public contributions enrich News Challenge discussions. Add your voice and participate today.

* Matt’s work might not accurately represent the reality of submissions. It is largely dependent on the data inputted by submitters which can be incomplete or incorrect. Applications may be revised through April 13.

Lucas Hernandez is a media innovation associate at Knight Foundation.

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