November 8th, 2012
onaissues

Get inspired by digital coverage of the Nov. 6 Election

As Americans tuned in to the presidential race on Tuesday, newsrooms around the country experimented with ways to wrangle large amounts of data and provide live updates. Here are some areas where digital journalists created exceptional work:

Illustrating the election
The Guardian put together an interactive illustrated recap of President Obama’s and Gov. Romney’s path to the White House.  Wendy McNaughton live-illustrated election night from NPR headquarters, giving readers a glimpse of what radio looks like. (Interested in illustrated journalism? Check out the ONA12 session on why comics make good journalism and advice from Erin Polgreen of Symbolia Magazine on how editors can work with comics journalists.)

Watching the voting
Facebook’s real time vote counter was an excellent representation of where people were voting. As voters took to the polls, Instagram was flooded with pictures from people who had voted. The NY Times pulled together a beautiful interactive of the photos. As photos of people’s ballots began to show up on the service and on Twitter, ProPublica and other outlets warned that photographing ballots is illegal in some states.

Tools for voters and journalists
Google’s comprehensive election and polling package included resources to find polling stations and ballots summaries for each state. (Check out more from the ONA12 session Election Tools & Data and look for slides by Google’s Jesse Friedman detailing features of these resources and more.) Wall Street Journal built whattimedothepollsclose.com, a searchable micro-site with data for each state.

Live coverage
Dozens of websites did excellent work covering the election live, reaching viewers who wanted a second screen experience. NPR’s beautiful election dashboard displayed live updates, a gorgeous Tetris-inspired map and results all on one page. Al Jazeera created excellent interactives and continued highlighting issues important to voters throughout its live coverage.

Students did a great job collaborating on live coverage. Columbia’s Tow Center partnered with Columbia Journalism Review to provide live coverage and the #jeelection project, a partnership between 24 J-schools across the country, used RebelMouse to compile election coverage. (Interested in best practices for media collaborations? Check out the ONA12 session The Business of Collaboration.)

Demonstrating the power of Data
The New York Times “Paths to the White House” charted ways in which either candidate could achieve enough electoral votes to win the election, and it was updated live as results rolled in. The Times also prepared a valuable “shift map,” which demonstrated how voter sentiment changed between the 2008 and 2012 elections. WNYC’s election night map went beyond the traditional approach and broke down counties by their demographics, using terms like “immigration nation” and “evangelical epicenters.” (Interested in working more with data? Check out the notes from WNYC’s — and ONA Board member — John Keefe’s Into to Data Viz workshop.)

Monitoring voter suppression
Mother Jones put together a map of areas where there were incidents of voter suppression or poll problems, along with an explainer on voting.  Partnering on the initiative, the Daily Beast captured information online and on Twitter using the hashtag #troubleVoting from voters who reported trouble with casting their votes, and put them in touch with reporters who verified their stories.

Showing the Big Picture
The Washington Post’s supergrid used a beautiful visual timeline to present events throughout the campaign and the election results.

Spelling victory on social media
The election was called before 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.  The Obama campaign tweeted out “four more years” at 11:16 p.m., a tweet that has become the most retweeted of all time (over 789, 534 retweets at time of writing). The same message, with the same photo, was posted on the Obama Facebook page, and has become the most liked photo on Facebook, with over four million likes at time of writing. Looking to up your social media game? Check out the ONA12 session Social Media Debate: Best Practices and Bad Habits.

What other great examples  of digital coverage did you see? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter by using the hashtag #ONAissues.

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