Thursday, September 14, 2006

21st century election coverage ...

I thought you'd be interested in this recent post from Tribal Fires, a blog that exists mainly to bedevil the Anchorage Daily News. Coming from that generally begrudging source, this seems even more impressive.

Slouching towards immediacy

Isn’t it interesting to see ADN transforming itself as this election season wears on? It seems to be changing from a factory that produces a single big slug of news product every morning into something resembling a round-the-clock news operation – like a wire service, or CNN, or an old-time, honey-get-me-rewrite urban tabloid that published several editions a day.

Two cases in point:

1. At 5:35 p.m. Saturday, reporter Kyle Hopkins posted a story on the ADN home page about NEA-Alaska declining to endorse any of the three governor candidates (though it endorsed Knowles only two years ago when he ran for U.S. Senate against Lisa Murkowski). Back in the day, this story would have been all over TV and radio for better than twelve hours before ADN hit our doorsteps in the morning. Now, thanks to the Internet, ADN can be as immediate as the broadcast media.

2. Kyle’s campaign blog. Its biggest effect is to feed the cravings of Billy and other political junkies for a constant flow of info and comment on what the candidates are up to – stuff that, however much we in the blogosphere eat it up, is too insiderish and arcane to make print. But the other effect of the blog is to keep that information coming pretty much in real time, if you allow for the necessity of some time to write and edit. So, not only does the big stuff – like NEA’s non-endorsement – get out immediately. So does the little stuff.

From time to time, media pundits fret about how the dinosaurish old print media can possibly survive in the Internet age. Well, maybe we’re seeing the answer before our very eyes as ADN covers this campaign.

It’s simple (if not always easy) and it’s the same thing newspapers have always done: You go out. You get the story. You write it up. You put it out there. The only thing new is, you don’t wait twelve hours to take that last step.

I know most of you are extending your election (and other) coverage in a variety of ways. Anything special that you'd like to add here?
–Howard Weaver


  1. Howard,

    Thank goodness I'm sitting down. Billy said something nice about the ADN?

    Hold on, let me check the temperature in hell ...

  2. OK, temperature seems normal. The Washington State University Cougars aren't going to the Rose Bowl or anything ...

    We converted much of our Drupal-driven forum site to election forums on all local races. We sent letters to each candidate with an invitation to join the conversation. At least three have (not great, but it's a start, and each of them has probably picked up votes because of their ability to answer readers' questions directly).

    Traffic on our forum site has jumped tenfold as a result, and the users seem to love it. One even chided candidates for not being part of the conversation.

  3. Link to Andy's Tri-City forum

    How about offering to set the candidates up with weblogs? Then your site could host a page with blog excerpts from all candidates running in a given race, which would make the nonparticipating ones look, well, vacant.

    And how about an "ask the candidate(s)" feature, where readers can submit (and vote on?) the questions, and the paper can use its clout to get them answered?
    (I've been trying to get answers from the incumbent in my district with no success)

  4. I think that's a good idea, Anna. Of course politican weblogs would be self-serving (and no dount written by some flunkie on the campaign staff) but if you got a batch of 'em on your site, it would clearly identify the paper as the central institution in the debate ...

    Any trying this? Amnybody willing?