The 2008 election is being covered on more platforms than
any previous election, and it's already putting a strain on
many newsrooms. If you're looking for ideas to try online
or places to find good information, look no farther. We've
put together a list that includes a number of widgets you
can simply embed on your station Web page or offer to your
audience for free. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?
profiles: From Sunlight
widget that adds mini-profiles to the names of Members of Congress
on your page. The profiles appear when you mouseover the
sun icon. Example: Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
This customizable Flash
widget from MapLight.org creates
a graph from FEC data on fundraising by presidential candidates
that you can embed in your page. You control which candidates
order to put them in, and the colors to use.
The Center for Responsive
Politics has tracked
candidate fundraising for a decade now. Check their site, OpenSecrets.org,
for data on congressional candidates as well as presidential.
The Huffington Post has developed a bunch of
widgets from public records filed with the FEC. At left,
one version of a widget from Fundrace
2008 that lets users
search for contributors by name
a "celebrity donors" widget with photos of the biggest
check campaign videos or candidate statements?
Start at factcheck.org,
a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University
of Pennsylvania, run by former CNN and Wall Street Journal
reporter Brooks Jackson.
Then check the the “truth-o-meter” from
Congressional Quarterly and the St. Petersburg Times, that rates candidate
statements, attacks and ads from "true" to "pants on fire." They've
recently added a "flip-o-meter." A widget (seen at right) makes it easy
to add the meters to your own site.
Finally, the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs has a "Fact
Checker" blog whose goal is to "'truth squad' the national
Issue coverage tracker:
From the Washington
Post, this Flash widget shows the connection between candidates
and issues based on mentions by news organizations, political
parties, interest groups, bloggers, unions, trade organizations,
candidates, activists, and more. Just click on a candidate
and a tag cloud shows the issues most closely associated with
that candidate in all of the coverage tracked. Click on the tag,
and a pop-up window shows recent coverage of the candidate's
views on that issue. A slider at the bottom of the page allows
users to set a date range for the coverage they want to see.
For more about candidates' positions on the issues, check
the non-partisan site OntheIssues.org or
Project Vote Smart,
which is now allowing its data to be posted on other sites.
You need some programming knowledge, however. Read their how-to
MySpace friends: TechPresident tracks
each candidate's "friends" totals on MySpace. Their widget
turns those statistics into a badge you can embed in your page template.
Crawdad Technologies has created Wonkosphere to
monitor "political buzz" online. Their widget (left) shows
the proportion of buzz for the top five candidates
blogs for the 24 hours preceding the latest update.
Candidate bobbleheads: A fun, interactive widget
produced by SpringWidgets,
part of Fox Interactive Media. They have a long list of candidates
to choose from.
could do something similar for your state alone using Google
Maps. If you're already keeping track of candidate schedules
at your assignment desk, it wouldn't take much effort to map
that information. Besides, it's free.
It's fascinating to see how political
changed over time. Scroll through these presidential speech tag
clouds created by Chirag Meta, a 26-year-old IT manager from
Florida. The slider at the top of the cloud lets you go back
and forth in time, so you can see at a glance which topics were
getting the most attention when. The image below is from President
Bush's 2007 State of the Union speech. Consider using the free
code to create your own tagged timeline for state
officials. Or just plug a speech into Wordle to generate a static
Curious about the role
of faith in this year’s presidential
campaign? Visit the “One
Vote Under God” matrix produced by Northwestern’s
Medill School of Journalism:
Want to let your audience see how their views match up with those
of the candidates? Direct them to the USAToday Candidate