I've decided to showcase innovative U.S. elections coverage, because I think that some of the projects currently being offered at news organizations here are spectacular and may help inform the work you're doing in your office.
NYTimes Elections Guide
This project is simply amazing. Databases are automatically brought in to feed content areas for all of the candidates, issues, schedules, finances, polls and voters. The data is then displayed in a number of ways, and virtually everything is interactive. You can drill down to find out just about anything, from what John McCain thinks about abortion to how the state of California would vote, if the election was held today. I cannot say enough posivite things about the Election Guide - it is the gold standard for interactive databases.
CNN's Election Coverage Page
CNN gets my vote for its many election features. For example, the CNN Political Market allows you to bet virtual money on how the candidates will fare. You get $5,000 to start out and can trade in a variety of elections markets. There's an Electoral College calculator, enabling you to call the election as you see it. (What's lacking is a good, clear explanation of what the Electoral College is and why we have it...for more info, see this site.) CNN of course also offers ample video, coverage of major announcements, speeches and debates and a whole bunch of analysis.
Washingtonpost.com's Politics Section
The Post has a number of intractive features and databases, from state-by-state coverage to comprehensive information about each candidate, to a fairly interesting campaign tracker map. I especially like the Campaign Finance feature that shows all of the money raised and spent by the candidates.
There are a number of mobile applications, too. USA TODAY has launched a BlackBerry application that "allows you to track the upcoming elections from your mobile phone. You can access the latest headlines, results, candidate profiles, slideshows, views of candidates on key issues, election calendar, polls, and play the Candidate Match Game."
For iPhone users, there's the Election '08 application, which offers up-to-the-minute poll numbers, vote counts, analysis and other statistics. I actually downloaded this one, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in action in the final days of the campaign. (Download the application via the iTunes store here.)
So what do you think? How does U.S. elections coverage online compare to what you're seeing in your home country? What innovative examples can you share? What do you think of the ones above?
Amy Webb is a digital media consultant and head of Webbmedia Group, LLC. Find more multimedia tips and ideas at her blog, http://www.mydigimedia.com. Webbmedia Group is a vendor-neutral company. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews. Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.
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