10 newsroom engagement ideas for the 2018 Midterm Elections

Control of Congress is the headliner for Nov. 6. But in nearly every city across the country, local voters will decide on governors, city council seats and referendums.

We’ve rounded up a bunch of ideas to consider as you think about your election coverage:

1. Create a primer for the election

In an FAQ format, help your audience understand everything from the local races up for grabs to where to vote. This New York Times interactive is very cool but even if you can’t create something like this, your newsroom could answer these kind of questions in a list.

2. Develop a series of questions for curious readers

Over the next few weeks leading up to the election, answer questions your readers have, like this one from a TV station in Seattle on how to use Democracy Vouchers that landed in residents’ mailboxes. You could also answer questions around bonds and referendums or anything else local that readers may be wondering about. With three weeks left before the election, you could answer three questions, one a week, for the next few weeks and create a brand for it.

3. Create social media images for quotes

This is a great approach to take when covering debates and on election night when reporters get quotes from the winners and losers.

 

4. Show voting trends through maps and stories

This map offers a nice look at what’s up for grabs and likely winners by state but at the local or regional level you could dig into how zip codes and counties have fared in the past when it compares to your state.

5. Have political experts weigh in on amendments

This newspaper asked two political science experts to provide their guidance on a variety of state amendments. They explained the amendments and then said if it should pass or not. If you have a fair amount of amendments, this is a neat approach that could be done through video, as well.

6. Relate your election content

During the 2016 election, The Washington Post built a feature called Backdrop that showed related content for the election down the right side of the page, it moved with the scroll of the page and included recent poll results and links to stories. Developing a way to ensure related election content appears with your election content is a good idea. See if you can automate your keyword structure so every election story you publish can feature either specific election sidebar content or related election stories.

7. Use video to show what your reporters see

The 360 view from The Boston Globe provided their audience a view of what a rally for Hillary Clinton looked like. You could do the same on election night at watch parties.

An interactive 360° view of Hillary Clinton supporters in Manchester, N.H. during the 2016 McIntyre Shaheen 100 Club Celebration Dinner.

Posted by The Boston Globe on Friday, February 5, 2016


8. Develop a live blog on election night

NPR developed a product called Stream that ended up being a destination for quick updates, color and images and video. It’s a nice tool and the best way to handle updates throughout election evening.

9. Follow the financial disclosures

This story from The Providence Journal examined some of the more interesting financial disclosures in their region. In a smaller market, providing financial disclosure reports on every major race is a helpful resource for your audience. 

10. Explain how you make endorsement decisions

The San Diego Union Tribune went to video to help their audience understand their process for making decisions about their endorsements. You could do this in text as well. The transparency is excellent and useful.

How does a newspaper make election endorsements?

Editorial Director Matthew T. Hall joins The Conversation today to discuss The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board's endorsement process.

Posted by The San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday, May 9, 2018