Reese News Lab wins $35,000 Knight Foundation grant to launch searchable N.C. General Assembly archive and alert system

Apr 23 2014

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – (April 22, 2014) – The Reese News Lab has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for Capitol Hound — a Web application that will offer searchable North Carolina General Assembly transcripts. The funding was provided through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps people explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding. The support will go toward a pilot launch of Capitol Hound in May.

Using a combination of tools, Capitol Hound generates transcripts of audio recordings of floor sessions and select committee meetings. The application enables subscribers to search for exact words spoken by lawmakers the day after the session. Users can also specify keywords to receive email alerts, which contain a link to the exact moment the word is mentioned in the recording, accompanied by the full transcript and sound bite.

North Carolina is one of 41 states that does not offer searchable transcripts of state government sessions.

“Capitol Hound is all about bringing transparency to the North Carolina General Assembly,” said John Clark, executive director of the Reese News Lab.

In addition to Clark, the winning team includes associate director Sara Peach, programmer Meghan Horton, and students Lilly Knoepp and Corinne Jurney.

Knoepp, along with students Nikki Mandell, Daniel Pshock, Annie Daniel, Casey Miller, Meredith Cook and Ethan Butler, led initial research and development of the application during summer 2013.

“Capitol Hound has the potential to address a real community need, allowing citizens better access to local government and increasing transparency,” said Chris Barr, who leads the Knight Prototype Fund, an initiative of the foundation’s Journalism and Media Innovation program. “The hope is that the prototyping process will help the project team develop a better understanding of user needs, and pilot a tool that will benefit the local community and beyond.”

A demonstration version of Capitol Hound is available at

The Reese News Lab is an experimental media and research project based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.