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Contently

December 16, 2011 in Craft, Distribution, Experiments, Resources

There are the writers and journalists who find it nearly impossible to search for, let alone land exceptional freelance opportunities. Then there are the publishers who are faced with countless requests from writers, making it difficult to select the most experienced or distinguished journalists in the bunch.That’s why three startup entrepreneurs founded Contently, a website geared toward empowering and connecting quality writers and brands.“We realized that there is an inefficiency in freelance writing because writers have to spend a lot of time hassling after editors and work,” said Shane Snow, one of the three co-founders of Contently. “As the world moves increasingly towards freelance, we wanted to build a marketplace for freelancers and to allow publishers to become more efficient.”After starting off as an open marketplace for writers and publishers in 2010, Contently gradually evolved into a platform for journalists to manage their freelance careers and for publishers to obtain access to millions of the world’s top writers in their industry.” Source: Mashable

Project Vote Smart

December 5, 2011 in Community, Education, Resources

Since Project Vote Smart was inaugurated in 1992, we have offered special services and programs to journalists in order to enhance their coverage of local and federal candidates, legislation, and elections. Over the years, Vote Smart has partnered with hundreds of national, state, and local news organizations, all lending their support for our programs and comprehensive databases on more than 40,000 candidates and incumbents, used to help Americans Vote Smart.

Relevant Programs

Research Assistance
Call the Voter’s Research Hotline (1-888-VOTESMART) or email your questions to media@votesmart.org in order to access a free research and referral service for working journalists. Our researchers have access to an extensive library and databases of continually-updated information on elected officials, candidates, issues, special interest groups, and government activities, in order to help journalists with fact-checking and background information for their stories. Also view our web directory for a complete list of information found on our website.

Resources for Your Website
Ready-to-upload widgets, logos and banners make it easy for news organizations to customize Vote Smart’s information resources for their own communities and audiences. To create customized web pages and applications using all or selected parts of Vote Smart’s databases, news organizations can use our Application Programming Interface (API). The API will respond to simple requests for data, such as ‘get bio information for candidate Y’ and ‘get Votes for candidate X.’

The Political Courage Test
Each election cycle, news organizations support our programs by both informing their audience about Vote Smart’s candidate information, and by encouraging their candidates to provide relevant issue information through the Political Courage Test. Previous election-year Test results show, when local news organizations speak out in support of the Political Courage Test, candidates are more likely to provide answers. Candidates’ subsequent answers to Test questions are offered in advance of public release to collaborating news organizations, in order to enrich their campaign coverage. For more information email media@votesmart.org or call 406-859-8683.

The Political Courage Test is the organization’s flagship program, asking all candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens where you stand on the issues you may face if elected?” Candidates who reply “yes” are asked to address key issues known to be both consistently of top concern to the American people and also likely to come up in the next legislative session.

VoteEasy™
Utilizing thousands of hours of research and a vast collection of data assembled by Vote Smart researchers, this interactive tool allows the general public to quickly and easily see which presidential and congressional candidates align with their views on key issues such as abortion, immigration, and the environment. Use it now! News organizations are encouraged to link directly to VoteEasy™ by placing VoteEasy banners on their elections website page.

“The ultimate tool for pre-election research; [VoteEasy] does a great job of connecting you to political candidates that share your views in a fun, dynamic way.” – CommArts Annual

  • 2011 CommArts Interactive Annual Award Winner
  • 2011 Webvisionary Award Winner, “Visualize This” Category
  • Featured as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Talk to Me” exhibit” Source: Vote Smart

The Sunlight Foundation

December 5, 2011 in Experiments, Resources, Technology

In April 2006, the Sunlight Foundation formally opened its doors. Unlike other non-profit institutions based in Washington, DC, Sunlight sought, much like a tech start-up, to take an experimental approach to achieving its goals of making government data more available and accessible. Rather than focusing exclusively on policy work aimed at Washington insiders or grassroots engagement efforts aimed at ordinary Americans, Sunlight focused on three key priorities: digitizing data, building tools and the sites for easy access to it, and developing communities to support and help carry on its work. 

Sunlight’s main policy priority is to establish within government an a priori assumption that all public information should be made available online, in as close to real-time as possible…

Perhaps most importantly, at our core, Sunlight recognizes that no number of staff at Sunlight or organizations we fund will be able to accomplish the task of making government transparent and accountable alone. Consequently, Sunlight seeks, at every opportunity, to engage concerned citizens in the work of making Washington more transparent, accessible and accountable.” Source: Sunlight Foundation

SeeClickFix

November 23, 2011 in Community, Experiments, Resources, Technology

SeeClickFix is a free mobile phone and web tool that allows citizens to report and document non-emergency issues to communicate them to those accountable for the public space. Issues that are reported through the website are recorded on a map for everyone to see and interact with. Anyone can receive email alerts on the issues based on a filter by geographical area and keyword…We believe in the power of technology to promote:

  • Transparency – Governments and most organizations work best when they conduct their business in plain view. We’ll do our best to do the same.
  • Collaboration – Four brains are better than one. And millions of brains are better than three. Our goal is to give everyone else the tools to accomplish what we never could ourselves. Open source software and wikis are good models for us.
  • Scale – We could have created a site that focused on our home town. Using the internet and all the tools others have created, we want to reach as many people as possible around the globe. Massive scale, please.
  • Efficiency – Although paper has its place, there is a lot more room for the web and the mobile phone. Rather than re-invent the wheel, our site is built on open source software and Google maps.” Source: SeeClickFix

“Local governments and media outlets across the country are using SeeClickFix to stay up-to-date on the issues that have the most immediate impact on the health of our communities.

Publicly documented SeeClickFix issues quickly become the seeds for news stories, investigative reports, and citizen advocacy pieces. Our platform gives you a window into the public debate and organizes the issues in a way that makes it easy to discern which are most pressing and likely to generate immediate attention.

SeeClickFix has media partnerships with hundreds of media outlets around the country. Besides helping to source local stories, our Text and Map Widgets help to enhance the user experience on your website. Our widgets display the most important issues that have been reported in your area and allow users to report issues of their own right on your site. Generating a widget takes only a few clicks, and will help make your site more interactive and more relevant to the day-to-day concerns of your readership.

Our partnerships with media outlets are mutually beneficial. We drive traffic to local news sites, while our community of users grows and develops in new locations. These collaborations create new space for public dialogue, connect civically engaged members of the community, and help citizens hold local governments accountable.” SourceSeeClickFix

Tableau Public

April 27, 2011 in Resources, Technology

Tableau Public is a free service that you can download to create and publish interactive data visualizations to the web. You don’t need to be a programmer or hire one – no language to learn, no Flash, no plug-ins and no API. Tableau Public makes it easy to:

  • Make your blog or website stand out;
  • Let people explore your data online;
  • Share your visualizations

The Tableau Public software saves work to the Tableau Public web servers – nothing is saved locally on your computer. Embed the content in your blog or website, or share it via links on web pages or in emails. Once on the web, anyone can interact with the data, download it, or create their own visualizations of it.

Tableau Public can connect to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and multiple text file formats. It has a limit of 100,000 rows of data allowed in any single file and there is a 50 megabyte limit on storage space for data.” Source: Tableau Software