When we launched Politics Verbatim last year, a fair number of news organizations asked us how they could create a similar service for their local communities.
Well, a year later, we have an answer: Have at it.
Since the California governor’s race ended last year, PV has mostly been sitting around gathering dust. So we thought: Why not open source it? Surely there must be something in the codebase that people can use.
For those not familiar with the project, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version. Last year, California Watch wanted to hold California’s two major party gubernatorial candidates for the statements they were saying during a loud and often hostile campaign.
The race was unique in that it featured billionaire Meg Whitman, the former CEO of Ebay, who spent nearly $180 million dollars on the campaign — much of it on television and radio advertisements that ensured she was a constant presence on the airwaves.
Our theory was: Let’s record the attacks, claims, promises and policy ideas being put forth by Whitman and her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown, make them searchable, and save them for posterity. It’s because of that effort that we now have dozens of Brown’s campaign promises (he went on to win) right at our fingertips.
When we built the site, we did so with the idea that the same model could easily be applied to other venues where people were saying things worth saving: campaigns, legislative debates, cable TV punditry, you name it. After all, an archive of searchable, sortable statements makes it a lot easier to point out hypocrisy, look for inconsistencies, or just generally call B.S.
The site was built in a rush, so the codebase isn’t the cleanest thing in the world. If there’s demand for it, we will invest the time and effort to tidy it up.
In the mean time, head over to Github and check it out. If you have any questions, feel free to contact CIR’s technology director, Chase Davis, at firstname.lastname@example.org