Elections '08 coverage on the Web

Class, I'd like you to take a good, hard look at the Elections '08 special reports that are being produced by the major news sites (such as washingtonpost.com, nytimes.com, msnbc.com, cnn.com, usatoday.com, etc.). Tell us in a paragraph or two, with appropriate links to illustrate your points, about at least one major news site that's been doing a good job -- posting breaking news quickly, building interactive charts and maps, telling stories with audio and video and photos, and providing interactivity with readers. Also tell us, in a paragraph or two, about at least one site that hasn't been doing so well on these points, in your opinion. Feel free to not only post your own comments, but to comment on others'. But remember to be tactful -- the world can see your comments. Due by the start of class Feb. 20. Thanks!


Janelle Lilley said...

Whether it is a vice or a virtue, I never tire of political coverage. In this year's presidential primary, I have patronized NPR's website regularly.

I particularly have used NPR's interactive map of the Unites States where viewers can see what percentage of votes each candidate has in the any state's primary. http://www.npr.org/news/specials/election2008/2008-election-map.html#/primaries/

NPR's coverage has been deep and the website has been helpful in facilitating understanding and providing visuals.

I have also frequently visited The Charlotte Observer's website. Their coverage is not as detailed as NPR's or even The Washington Post.

Their interactive map is primitive and does not give as much information as NPR's (i.e. percentages, education level of the state...).

The disparity between The Observer's and NPR's website could be explained by the fact that one is local and the other is national. However, The Observer has often been accused of being a news monopoly in North Carolina and is view by many as a statewide newspaper which could diminish the "local" excuse.

melissa said...

ABCNews.com (http://abcnews.go.com/) does a great job of covering the elections. The webpage in itself is appealing as it displays recent pictures, audio, and video. As you scroll over each headline, a new photo appears on the left side of the page with a caption. The website also alerts viewers on breaking news by displaying a subtitle bolded in red at the top of the webpage. This website also allows viewers to access other articles easily toward the bottom of the page in the "Politics" section. Any recent articles about the election are all posted below that section which makes the website more user-friendly than others.
Compared to ABCNews.com USAtoday.com(http://www.usatoday.com/) does a poorer job of covering the election. They include fewer pictures and multimedia links. Although the articles on the website are relevant and well-written, they are less appealling. As a person that usually does not get that excited over elections, I need something to draw me in to click on the artices. The website is missing some sort of appeal that has that affect.

Mariel said...

I've thought that the election coverage on CNN.com has been very good.

Obviously, CNN often has links to articles about the election in latest news, but its "election center," which can be found at http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/ is really great. There are aspects of the page that appeal to people who don't follow politics in-depth, like the "Understanding Delegates" section (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/02/delegate.explainer/index.html), which explains things like Super Delegates. But the website also does a good job of covering the daily stories from the campaign trail on its Political Ticker Blog (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/).

There's plenty of interactive maps and a combination of audio, video and photos on the site to keep readers interested.

On the other hand, WashingtonTimes.com's election coverage has definitely not done as well as some other sites. Although the content of the articles is fairly in depth, there is definitely a lack of multimedia and interactivity for readers. While there are blogs available on the website (http://www.washingtontimes.com/section/election/), there is not much original content created for the site. It seems to merely be an online version of their newspaper. They try to make up for the lack of original content by linking to AP election coverage and videos, but obviously this does not make up the difference to allow the site to be on par with a site like CNN.com.

Ashley Sharif said...

As the 2008 primaries are heating up, it is becoming increasingly important for major news sites to provide up-to-date information about the upcoming presidential election. One site which has done a good job of keeping its readers informed on the campaign trails of the major candidates is washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post has a special section on its site devoted to the 2008 presidential candidates (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008-presidential-candidates/?nid=roll_08campaign). This section of the site is both easy to locate and full of up-to-date information.

This section of The Post's website allows readers to become familiar with each of the candidates. Each candidate has a profile that includes biographical information, upcoming events, official statements, photos and videos, endorsements and information about noteworthy donors. The information is compiled in an easy to read format with many well-designed graphics and pictures; the information is also very in-depth.

I find the issue coverage tracker the most interesting aspect of the candidates' profiles. This tracker keeps a tally of how many times each candidate mentions one of the major topics, such as abortion, education and the Iraq war. There is also a link to recent stories about each of the candidates. This is an effective way to inform readers about each of the issues that the candidates focus on. An example of the tracker can be seen on Barak Obama's page (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008-presidential-candidates/barack-obama/) the tracker is located in the center of the page.

Aside from the candidate profiles, washingtonpost.com has a section for all of the up-to-the-minute stories and updates about the campaign trail (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/politics/elections/). There is an interactive map, podcasts, campaign diaries and a place for live chat with each of the candidates.

The washingtonpost.com incorporated many mediums in its site. There are photos, graphics, text and videos. This makes the site visually engaging, as well as interesting. It maximizes the use of different mediums. The cohesive, easy to follow format of the site makes it very easy for a reader to come in and learn a lot about each of the candidates in a fairly easy to digest way. Thus, The Washington Post did a very thorough job of covering the 2008 campaign trail.

Although The Post created a site that is easy to navigate, clear, concise and visually engaging, not all sites were as easy to use and thorough in their coverage of the 2008 election. The Baltimore Sun has a good site devoted to the 2008 election (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/), but it is not as easy to navigate or as visually appealing as The Post's site. Like The Post's site, The Baltimore Sun has a delegate count, however the graphic that The Sun uses is not as visually appealing as The Post's. The Post uses a color-coded map while The Sun uses a simple graph. Also, the information on baltimoresun.com is not easy to navigate as on washingtonpost.com. A majority of the text is small, without prominent headlines, and the different chunks of information are difficult to differentiate.

Just as The Post, The Sun has candidate profiles, however The Sun's do not have as much information on them as The Post's. On example is Hillary Clinton's profile (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-candidate2008-clinton,0,7550798.htmlstory). The Sun does not have a list of major endorsers on the profiles, such as The Post does.

There is a variety of different multimedia on the site, which is a major plus. There are a lot of videos and photos, but as I mentioned earlier, there are fewer and less visually entertaining graphics on the site. Overall, The Sun did an adequate job of reporting on the 2008 election, but it did not do as thorough of a job as The Post. The major set back of the site was that it is difficult to read due to the congested, small text.

James K. Sanborn said...

I reviewed election coverage by Washingontpost.com, MSNBC.com, CNN.com and USAToday.com. From the four I choose two sites that demonstrated strong and weak online coverage. More than just timely coverage and breadth of information, I took into consideration the extent to which a web site utilized the capabilities afforded by being online.
In my opinion, MSNBC.com did the best job of utilizing the capabilities of an online publication. In addition to up to date information, they had a good clean design that was well organized and interjected with many easily used and helpful interactive presentations.
One such presentation was "Rate the Candidates' Positions." Viewers could view candidate positions on primary issues, then enter how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the candidate. Finally, viewers could see how their stance compared with the general public. The presentation incorporated video, copy and interactivity.
Rate the Candidates' Positions

MSNBC.com also did a good job of allowing viewers to sort information by genres including news, analysis and videos. They also tapped one of online's strongest abilities - crowd sourcing and reader input. Readers could file their own reports, ask questions and make suggestions.
I am typically a Washingtonpost.com fan. There coverage was decent but I gave them low marks for their lack of innovative interactive / multimedia presentations.
In general, Washingtonpost.com provided succinct and easily accessible information. Unfortunately, unlike many of their competitors, they did not fully utilize the capabilities of an online publication. To a great extent, their campaign page was a database of print media.
The main exception which struck a cord with me, was an interesting device called the "Issue Coverage Tracker." It was not entirely intuitive but it was an interesting tool I have not seen elsewhere. It tracked "media coverage of what the candidates are talking about," through graphical and text representations.
Issue Coverage Tracker

Juxtaposed were candidates and primary issues. You could sample a particular time period, then scroll over a candidate and the issues would grow and become emboldened or shrink and fade depending on how much the media had covered them talking about an issue. Or, you could scroll over an issue and the candidate would shrink or grow based on who had talked about and been covered more on that issue. You could also see the actual articles that had been written by the media.
In my opinion, we are at a point where online publications must look beyond the edge timeliness gives them over traditional print publications. They must look to incorporate multimedia and interactivity. I graded the publications I viewed based on this assumption.

Mike Plant said...

The site I have paid the most attention to is washingtonpost.com and I think they've done a really good job of covering the election.


on this page, the Post has pretty much anything I could think of that anyone might want to check out about the election. With maps showing who has won each state's primaries in both parties, some really comprehensive bios of the candidates, links to podcasts, blogs, opinion columns, this page really is has a lot to offer and is very informative to the potential voter.

I was kind of disappointed to see the coverage on msnbc.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18970417/), while the site has links to a variety of articles and videos, it definitely is lack when compared to the Post. I find this kind of hard to believe with the Post, being a national paper, but also more of a local focus. Where MSNBC is purely national and is geared toward that huge audience.

JZuller said...

One website doing an exceptional job with the 2008 election coverage is the washingtonpost.com. The site is constantly updating stories, and there is even a live coverage section (http://blog.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/?hpid=topnews). In addition to the actual news stories, the Post’s website includes links to quick surveys for readers to take, bios of the candidates, as well as a Live Politics Chat link. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08-launch.html). There are also videos and photographs posted following the candidates on the campaign trail. The site features a sidebar that has links to each primary, so a reader can click and see the outcome in any given state.
In addition to the Washington Post’s website, CNN.com has also had extensive election coverage. The website is constantly updated throughout the day and a reader can get full coverage by visiting “Election Center 2008” (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/). There, readers can get information on how the elections work, ‘meet the candidates’ and watch videos of the candidates and what they’re doing.
On the other hand, one website that has not been doing the best job covering the election is FoxNews.com (http://youdecide08.foxnews.com/states/). Unlike the Washington Post and CNN, Fox news does not put the election coverage prominently on the homepage. The coverage is not as detailed and not very user-friendly. The site even loaded much slower than the other news sites. Multiple charts are posted but difficult to read and very uninteresting. Overall the site could be doing a much more interesting job portraying the 2008 election.

Nick D. said...

I've been looking at the Washington Post's coverage and the coverage on CNN.com.

On the Post's website when you click on election coverage, you are immediately forced to choose which candidate you want more info on, as opposed to CNN.com where it starts broad and allows you to narrow in on a candidate. I like CNN's approach better because it gives you more general info to begin with, as opposed to the Post which makes it difficult to track the entire race. The Post's layout makes it difficult to compare candidates or get an overall sense of the election results. I will give the Post credit for being good with updates when results are coming in, but other sites do it just as well. One thing the Post does well is make it very easy to search contributions to candidates, something I couldn't find on CNN.com.

CNN.com's election center is laid out in a more inviting manner than the Post's, and is more informative as well. It's graphs and charts are easy to read and understand. It also has some informational sections devoted to "Elections 101" and "What's a delegate?", which I thought were nice touches. CNN also did a much better job than the Post in describing the stance each candidate has on main issues, a feature which of great importance (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/candidates/ron.paul.html). It's this easy access to candidate's views that make this my favorite election site. The Post tries something similar (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/issues/index.html?cquery=Ron%20Paul&iquery=Iraq%20War&mspan=3 )but it's too confusing and not as straight forward as CNN.

So in my opinion, the Post isn't doing as well as they could, and CNN is doing a near perfect job.

kshih said...
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Laura Griffin said...

I maybe slightly biased in my opinion because CNN is one of the places I go to first for news on the web, but they really do have nice political coverage. In terms of being interactive, they have several different ways of conveying information about the election. They have several charts with delegate breakdowns between the two major parties and the candidates, and includes information on how many are needed to win for both sides. There is also a map illustrating upcoming, past and present primaries. There is also a count down for the primary elections which is very nice. CNN.com has complete multimedia coverage and anyone to view the site will not want for pictures or video. The articles themselves are very diverse. For example, there is a section dedicated to the election issues. Then there are the headlining stories about the upcoming primaries, projections of winners and speculation on tactics by the candidates. What particularly enjoy is its user friendliness. The design and content are presented with both the political novice AND expert in mind.

One site doing a relatively mediocre job is USA.com. Aesthetically they are not up to par with their competitors. They do feature charts and figures (one thing that is nice is the poll tracker) however in terms of pictures and videos, they could incorporate more.

kshih said...
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kshih said...

I visit washingtonpost.com daily, and visit other news sites on more of a rotating basis, to see how their coverage differs. The WP has been doing a great job with election coverage- their website is thorough and their "Campaign Toolbox" is great for anyone who follows the campaign obsessively (with its events tracker, campaign money database, issue coverage tracker), or just for a passing reader to learn a bit about each candidate (candidate profiles, the choose your candidate quiz). But it's not just information that the Post has. It has amusing and interesting commentary from several blogs, which keeps the coverage from being dry. Their news articles, however, are constantly updated and bring you the most up-to-date news every time you refresh your browser. I prefer the tables that the Post uses to display election results, which shows percentage and actual numbers, in tabs divided by state and then by party, as opposed to the NYT results, which just show percentages and lump all of the results from one state together.

The USA Today website lacks similar depth in its coverage. USA Today, known for its flashy, quick-hits coverage, could have made better use of its resources and created its own Elections '08 section. Instead, it only has a list articles. There's a noticeable lack of of photo galleries or other media to spice up the election coverage.

One website which is not a major news site that also has good election coverage is Slate.com. Though Slate focuses less on hard news and more on commentary, its commentary makes interesting points that major news organizations sometimes don't have the luxury of focusing on. Slate also has an extensive section devoted to the elections called . This section includes videos, picture slidehows and maps to make the site more interesting and accessible.

Andrew V. said...

Well, I do like the Post’s political coverage online, but nytimes.com is my website of choice for election news.

The politics page of the website has a pretty comprehensive election guide right at the top of the screen. When you follow the link there’s complete results from all the primaries, all of the long-form background profiles the paper has done on the candidates, interactive maps of each candidates’ financial donors across the country and the primary schedule.

The main page compiles all of the election coverage and up to date blog posts down the left side of the screen with the interactive content running down the right. Looks a little more organized than the Post.

The Times is also a little more versatile with their home page. For big political stories like Wisconsin today they ran the banner headline across the top with the dominant photo and packaged the main story with other election coverage and a graphic with the delegate count.

The Post has a similar arrangement, but it’s pretty much upended their site’s normal layout in which the dominant photo isn’t paired with the lead story. As other stories break, the Times will be able to shift gears a lot more smoothly by simply shrinking the box at the top or opening it up to allow other big stories to take the top spot.

ChiLvr0505 said...

There is nothing better than having a million questions and seeing them all addressed on the same web page. That same joy was felt when I went to cnn.com (http://www.cnn.com/?refresh=1). There are fantastic numbers and polls right on the first page as well as links to stories regarding the different candidates. I am very impressed by the site's layout, content and ease of nagivation. Another site, chicagotribune.com, as a great tool in their website. It is called The Swamp (http://weblogs.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/blog/2008/02/liveblogging_the_wisconsin_pri.html)
and I am really impressed by how many different topics and links it provides the reader with. It is a close second to cnn.com
A site that I am not impressed with is baltimoresun.com. I did not find a specific section of the site devoted to election coverage besides the top left corner. I did not see many options for the reader and there were only three different links to more coverage. I am dissapointed by this site's dedication to coverage and making information available to the reader.

Marty said...

I continue to be very impressed with the BBC US Election Coverage because it is as, or more, visually stimulating than any American website I've seen. It has Photos, videos, maps, and Graphs and it is updated with new articles several times daily.

I rarely read much about foreign general elections from US outlets, much less do any of them have constant coverage of any other county's primary election (or whatever their system includes).

Conversely the Washington Times doesn't even have a specific elections section, it simply has one for Nation/Politics. While I will say their articles and blogs are well written and extremely in depth, that doesn't even begin to make up for the dearth of multimedia. Some photos and some links to videos are not enough election coverage for a major newspaper, in DC, to have on their website.

The executives at the times appear not to prioritize their website very high because a lot of the articles and graphs are ripped right from the print edition. While the layout is user friendly, visually it is just boring. Newspapers do what they can with ink on paper, but this website is not doing what it can with their endlessly versatile web page.