Although I’m a programmer, I also consider myself a journalist. GovTrack reports on what is happening in Congress day by day — even if the reporting is just a nice presentation of a lot of raw, unedited facts about legislation. But I often lament the lack of a human touch, which is why in January I started , now on a bit of a hiatus.
I need your help. The nation needs your help. We all need to be reporters.
So here it is: The Summer Citizen Reporter Contest brought to you by GovTrack will award up to $1,500 in cash prizes for getting an interview with your congressperson or senator on your mobile phone video camera (or a better camera, if you have one). Here’s how it will work:
- Are you taking a trip to our nation’s capital this summer? If not, this contest is not for you! You’ll need to be in DC for this at a time when Congress is in session. UPDATE: You can now conduct the interview either in DC or in your home district.
- You must apply to participate in the contest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The reason is that I want to make sure that no two people are planning to interview the same person, and I want to help grease the wheels so you can get an interview. Submit a few questions to me that you think you would like to ask your representative. I’ll give some feedback.
- If you score an interview, you will be eligible for a prize. 1st place will be $750 cash and three runner-up prizes will be $250 each.
- The interviews will be judged on the quality of the response
. That means you have to choose fair, civil questions that are most likely to get good answers! If you go in to complain you’ll probably just get a brief goodbye. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do a little muckraking. The best responses will be those that address substantive issues, especially with a local aspect.
- The contest will close on the last day of September. That’s because Congress will be in recess from around Aug 9 to Sept 10. (Yes, I should probably have started this contest sooner!)
- Any videos submitted must be Creative Commons licensed so they can be freely shared.
- I’ll judge or I may appoint judges.
I hope you’ll participate!