Sunlight Live’s State of the Union Coverage


Last night the Sunlight Foundation’s award-winning Sunlight Live platform covered the State of the Union with context and fact-checking from Sunlight’s Reporting Group and teams from the Huffington Post, National Journal, CQ Roll Call and the Center for Public Integrity. It was an exciting evening and we’re honored so many of you chose to join our coverage for Obama’s speech, the Republican response and the Tea Party followup.

More than 10,000 people tuned in and, while at times we were nearly technically overwhelmed by the response, our talented Sunlight Labs team held us together. The engaged viewers left over 1,000 comments and we published more than a third of them to be answered by the reporters or shared with other visitors. Hundreds of folks camped out on the site hours before the speech, indicating their preference to watch on our channel. As best as we can measure, 2,308 tweets and 908 shares on Facebook sent fans to Sunlight Live.

Here are some excerpts from the various news coverage our Sunlight Live project received:

Roshan Nebhrajani from Medill’s School of Journalism joined Sunlight in our office and reported on the experience:

A group of 14 reporters gathered at the Sunlight Foundation, all centrally connected by one crucial link — a heavy-duty extension cord — as they typed through dinner to provide interactive coverage of the address to nearly 2,000 viewers. […] visitors to the Sunlight Foundation’s site engaged in online conversation. One said: “This is perfect. Like sitting in the room, watching with a bunch of smart, informed people.”

GOOD Magazine initially promoted the White House live-stream online but switched to support Sunlight Live after learning the extent of our coverage:

While we indeed support the government smartly using technological advancements to spread information, in this case, we’re going to direct you away from the White House’s stream and toward the Sunlight Foundation’s live blog. Not only will Sunlight be streaming video of the address, reporters from CQ Roll Call, the National Journal, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Huffington Post will be on hand to fact-check and offer context as the president speaks. We can almost guarantee that the information provided will be more objective and less dry than what the White House is offering. Happy viewing.

Fast Company did a roundup of all the various ways to watch the State of the Union and highlighted the collaborative and real-time reporting during Sunlight Live:

Traditionally, we’ve had to wait for the networks’ post-game shows before anyone starts to dissect the accuracy of various statements made by the president or the opposition. But last night, the Sunlight Foundation—in partnership with The Huffington Post, National Journal, CQ Roll Call, and the Center for Public Integrity—posted real-time fact-checking during the course of the addresses.

MediaBistro has an article about the new dawn of real-time fact checking that points to the work of the Sunlight Foundation and the Sunlight Live event:

Gone are the days when political junkies would have to wait for a speech to be over before talking heads could endlessly parse each word. […] with our incredible shrinking news cycle and the rise of participatory journalism, the approach only makes sense.

It was a great team effort at Sunlight and we loved working with our partners from the Center for Public Integrity, National Journal, CQ Roll Call and the Huffington Post. Thank you to everyone who helped make this Sunlight Live event a success and we hope you join us for future coverage.

Photo by Nicko Margolies