Election Coverage

Last week was our monthly analytics webinar, where we gather together the top insights across the system on both audience and engagement. 

As you might expect, election coverage was a big focus for the system this month, and we broke down  audience consumption of election coverage, as well as its impact on retention rate. And the results are significant: politics and election coverage had more than double the one-week retention rate of the previous 12 weeks. 


Emails sharing the amount of traffic that KQED’s voter guide received have been accompanied by a lot of exclamation points. The guide had over 500,000 views, was printed more than 60,000 times and shared on Facebook over 1,000 times.

Michigan Radio screenshot

We’ve been fairly generous in our shout-outs about the Michigan Radio Guide to Ballot Proposals. It’s a simple story: voters faced six different proposals to make changes to the Michigan Constitution, the largest number in any single Michigan election in about 35 years.

Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour/Flickr

The time is now to assess what online coverage worked and what didn't on election day, and during this entire election cycle. In a recent webinar, I shared five common themes that have begun to emerge amongst station successes.  

Watch the video and click through the slides below. Here are some highlights:

1. Guides: Guides to ballot initiatives, how to vote, candidate positions and key questions were popular at many stations this election cycle. They answered the questions their community was asking, and provided a valuable service.  

Tuesday was the big day for the Battleground blog, our experiment to aggregate coverage from a small group of stations across the country into a single live feed. We already know and believe that stations produce exceptionally good reporting, even inside the breaking news pressure cooker. We also know and believe that some of this content is relevant to a national audience.

So before we went all in on a system-wide effort, we wanted to test a few things on a smaller scale: 

11 Stations to Contribute to Battleground

Nov 5, 2012

As we mentioned last week, Digital Services will launch an election night blog aggregating NPR​ member station reporting on important races and initiatives from from across the country. These are the states, stations and issues we’ll be following:


Have you heard about Battleground? We'll be aggregating reporting on important races and initiatives from NPR Member Stations, and making it available in an experimental live-blog on election night. Click here for more details.

Now... here's the latest on Battleground from the Newsroom at NPR in Boston:

First of all, please note that 1) Teresa is not faking that phone call, and 2) Eric is happy to be here.

Election night is a national story that plays out in states around the country. We’re trying to capture that narrative through an experiment called Battleground -- a live blog of the election that’s made up of local station content. The editorial team at Digital Services will be aggregating stories from select stations across the country into a single live feed of local content that’s nationally relevant.

Cover the Election With Core Publisher [VIDEO]

Oct 19, 2012

For stations using Core Publisher, there are several tools that can help you cover the election in a meaningful way.

We went over several of those ideas, and learned how WUSF put them into practice during the Republican National Convention from News Director Scott Finn in a recent webinar. Find the slides, video of Finn's lessons and a recap below.

Live online election coverage helps create a more informed public by reaching them, and joining them, where they are.

That is why New Hampshire Public Radio does a mix of live blogging, live tweeting and live Facebook updates on big election nights, Brady Carlson shared in a webinar Oct. 11.

12 Tips From Public Media Collaboration in St. Louis

Oct 5, 2012

Collaborations are an important tactic in any digital news strategy, especially around election season.

 Public media outlets in St. Louis are using that tactic for their election coverage in a project called "Beyond November." St Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network officially launched a “one-stop-shop” website this summer, and are in the midst of the collaboration that will continue, yes, beyond November. 

Bill Raack, SLPR News Director, and Kelsey Proud, SLPR Online/Social Media Producer, checked in and shared some of their lessons learned so far in a webinar on Oct. 4. 

12 Tips From Public Media Election Collaboration in St. Louis


Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour/Flickr

If you’re still pulling together your election coverage or are looking for more ideas, we shared a procrastinator’s guide to a digital election coverage plan in a webinar Sept 27.  

Within the guide are  10 steps to think about, along with lots of examples of how public media have used those steps in their own local coverage. Here are those examples, along with several others that participants shared:

WUSF screenshot

The spotlight was on Tampa in August for the Republican National Convention. The news team at WUSF ran full throttle with on-air and online coverage, from the days before the convention, through the hurricane scare and the week of the convention itself. The result? The station broke all its previous website records.

 Election planning is in full swing in newsrooms across the country. As a service to all the procrastinators out there, we shared some ideas, tips and tools in a webinar on Sept. 27.

You can watch the full webinar or click through the slides below.


We're back with our second newsletter.  Each month we will provide a 'best hits' of station spotlights from our blog, a quick look at trainings you can join this month and a behind-the-scenes look at the team.  (Last month's newsletter.) 

Are You Ready for the Election? [VIDEO]

Sep 12, 2012
Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour/Flickr

 Updated November 9

Elections are a staple of news coverage – they’re also a time your audience is looking for timely and relevant local stories. That means more traffic and engagement on your web site if you have the right content.

Recap webinars on topics from live blogging to examples of election successes, and don't forget to evaluate what worked and what didn't work with your station's election coverage this year.


Four Ways to Jump Start Your Election Coverage

Aug 7, 2012

Summer is great for vacations and relaxation, but in an election year, news stations are ramping coverage of campaigns, the conventions, and eventually, election night in November.

Four Ways to Jump Start Your Election Coverage

Aug 6, 2012

Summer is great for vacations and relaxation, but in an election year, news stations are ramping coverage of campaigns, the conventions, and eventually, election night in November.

Here are some ways to maximize audience service and stay within your resource limits.

1. Understand what your audience expects of you when it comes to events and live coverage

Managing Tags for Greater Searchability and Sanity

Feb 27, 2012

Tags are important for adding visibility to your content with your audience and search engines. They can also be used incorrectly and exclude important stories. Too many tags can create eyesores and a loss of focus

Michigan Radio has developed a way to manage tags and streamline the process for their reporters. Senior producer Mark Brush created an in-house guideline that could be applicable to many stations. He's been kind enough to share it with us. 

How to add tags to a post

Tags help us create and point to a collections of stories, and they also help someone else find a collection of stories on the website.

When someone clicks on the "Mitt Romney" tag, for example, they are saying to themselves, “I want to see all the stories Michigan Radio has done on Mitt Romney."

So it's important for us to try to have consistent tags for the stories we post. We want to thread all of the relevant stories to that tag.

If you have multiple tags for the same topic (i.e., "Romney" or  "Gov. Romney," instead of sticking with “Mitt Romney”), the reader will miss important stories.

Think back to recent presidential caucuses, primaries, conventions, general elections and inaugurations. What sticks out as the most poignant memories? I bet there's an over-the-top hurrah. A concession speech. A convention speech.