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UNC School of Journalism Students Launch Web App to Track N.C. General Assembly Votes and More

July 19, 2012. The UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Reese Felts Digital News Project has launched The Roll Call, a Web application that breaks down N.C. General Assembly voting results. It is part of the school’s WhichWayNC.com project that covers North Carolina as a political battleground and host of the Democratic National Convention.

The Roll Call, which can be found at http://whichwaync.com/rollcall/, shows voting results by legislator, bill and chamber. It also displays the status of bills and the party identification of legislators.

“Acknowledging the complexity of the legislative process, we managed to present the many stages of a bill’s life in a very straightforward, simple and intuitive application,” said Tony Mantovani, the project’s programmer.
The Bill Tracker, the main component of The Roll Call, breaks a bill’s life into simplified stages and color-codes each stage to indicate its progress.

The application also automatically downloads and processes new data daily from the General Assembly website.
“The Roll Call is an invaluable tool for journalists, researchers and political junkies,” said John Clark, executive director of the Reese Felts Digital News Project. “I’m eager for the students to take the application even further with additional features.”
“In a single application, our students have set a new standard for journalists trying to compile data, analyze content and create both a technologically savvy and user-friendly presentation of information,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “We want to share this resource with state news leaders.”

The Reese Felts Digital News Project launched reesenews.org in November 2010 with funding from a $4.1million estate gift from UNC alumnus Reese Felts. Student journalists working in the newsroom are encouraged to take risks and explore experimental approaches that employ the full spectrum of text, photo, video, games and mobile technology to report and engage audiences.
WhichWayNC, which began in May 2012 as a part of the Reese Felts Digital News Project, applies an experimental approach to N.C. political coverage. In order to make politics personal, student journalists report on stories with a “mobile first” design concept.