The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Reese News Lab's Capitol Hound transcribing outsourced to Nepal

Capitol Hound, Reese News Lab’s online database, gives subscribers the ability to sift through hours of N.C. General Assembly meetings by typing a single keyword.

Reese News Lab, an experimental media lab based in UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, wanted to find a way to make this process as fast and as accurate as possible. They found a solution through a startup called CloudFactory, which employs transcribers in Nepal and Kenya.

Capitol Hound’s transcribers live in Nepal, where CloudFactory is based.

“The idea was that talent is equally distributed around the world, but opportunity is not. So how can we help these people?” said Damian Rochman, CloudFactory’s vice president of product marketing.

Lincoln Pennington, marketing associate and media researcher for Reese News Lab, said the most accurate way of transcribing is through people.

“When you’re trying to sell your service to lawyers, lobbyists, journalists — anyone who really cares about what’s going on in the General Assembly — accuracy makes or breaks your service,” Pennington said.

John Clark, executive director of Reese News Lab, said the lab did methodical testing on the best way to generate accurate transcripts quickly. He said this was the best possible solution for the lab’s approximately 40 active users, the majority of which are news organizations.

“The combination of the computers’ good speed and the humans together make for transcripts that are pretty accurate,” Clark said.

The accuracy of Capitol Hound is around 85 percent, according to its website.

Rochman said CloudFactory, which also has an office in Durham, finds people in countries all over the world that may not have many opportunities.

“Cloud workers” work part-time, an average of eight to 10 hours per week. Some are college students, working to help pay for tuition, while others are simply looking for a job. They work from home, cyber cafes or even school.

Anuj Kachapati, a senior production manager at CloudFactory, said becoming a cloud worker is easier than some people may think.

“You don’t necessarily need to be a transcriber previously to be eligible to do this job. You just need to prove that you have the proper skillset,” Kachapati said.

He said cloud workers have the opportunity for promotion.

“A lot of cloud workers have actually joined the CloudFactory office in Nepal,” Kachapati said. “So there is a definite path to promotion for (them).”

Clark and the Reese News Lab do not directly speak to the cloud workers, but Clark said they are happy with the results CloudFactory and its workers produce.

“They’re a pretty good company. We’ve enjoyed working with them,” he said.

Clark said Reese News Lab will be expanding the Capitol Hound idea in the spring to create a new project called Campaign Hound. Subscribers will then be able to follow the campaign trails of candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate.

“We’re going to take the same kind of idea, the same kind of system and apply it to the campaign trail starting in January. So no matter where the candidates are, you can get an alert from them or search what they are saying,” Clark said.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.