Poligraft good quick-reference tool for journalists

14 Mar

Poligraft is a transparency tool that provides political context to news stories by showing influence connections via contributions between people and organizations mentioned in the stories. It would take a fact-checker hours to come up with the results Poligraft provides in seconds, and with speed as one of today’s top priorities for journalists, the tool is clearly useful. Before writers cite stories in an aggregated posts, for example, they can run them through Poligraft to see if there are connections that look shady or unusual. Doing so may prevent them from sharing tainted information. Poligraft could also be useful in uncovering story ideas by revealing connections and alliances between unlikely people and organizations.

The story I ran through Poligraft is about what comes next in the Republican primaries after Santorum’s success in Alabama and Mississippi. It discusses why, even though Romney is doing well math-wise, he is not being perceived as doing so and what his next move could be. The results show that companies mentioned in the story — NBC Universal and Facebook — aggregated contributions to each candidate’s campaign, but that President Obama received the most contributions overall. Poligraft also included information about contributions from the University of Illinois, which was mentioned in passing in the story. Even though it wasn’t directly related to the main idea of the story, such a connection could produce interesting information for a future, unrelated story.

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