New York Times

Election Dashboards and Interactives

While we wait for results to come in, I thought I’d find some good political interactives.  First stop, of course is NY Times.  Check out their cool Dashboard for monitoring returns as they come in. And, if you go to their Multimedia page, you can see all kinds of great presentations that have to do with the 2008 campaigns. They have a nice chart that shows how different presidents over time have dealt with the problems of the economy (Can a President Tame the Business Cycle?) Oh, NY Times, why don’t you have the Multimedia link on your top nav bar? It’s the best part of your Web site.  On their home page, they do have links to cool things about the election, like this graphic visualization of words that come to mind associated with this election.  “Hopeful” is a big one.  Looks like Obama’s PR was successful. But, people are also excited and anxious. And, they have compiled a lot of their election resources into an Election Guide. They have really done an amazing job engaging technology during this campaign.

MSNBC has an election widget that you can use to watch results. Here’s their Dashboard. They’ve got maps, videos, quizzes, and coverage as it comes in.

It’s a big day in Washington, so you’d expect the Post to have some good tools. Here’s their Election Guide.  They’ve even got some mobile tools, can post race calls on Twitter and news alerts via email and sms.

And, NPR has a nice Election Guide as well, with Interactive Map and lots of articles.

Yahoo News has an Election page, but I have to say the traditional media sites seem to be the ones to watch this election. They seem to have organized their resources and experience and engaged the new technologies in very interesting ways. Like everyone else, though, Yahoo seems to have their own Dashboard for results. Which sites did you use? Find the most helpful.

If you are following on Twitter, there’s an Election 2008 section that they are filtering, basically what everyone is thinking/doing/seeing this election day.  You can also follow @austinvotes and @streetteam08 (that’s MTV’s Choose or Lose team, go @mairalg!) .  @austinvotes put up a good pic of the results of 1 million kids 6-12, how they would have voted.

Things are pretty quiet on the candidates’ sites. Barack Obama has a map of polling locations.  McCain has this very cheesy music video on his social network site (winner of worst effects in a music video, even for the Web; look for video of unofficial campaign song).

And, here’s something fun. Jorge Sanheuza-Lyon is streaming live during election day for the Statesman via Ustream.tv.

Never have there been so many ways for you to participate in the process. But, make sure you participate in the most important way. VOTE!

Share your favorite Web sites for Election Day.

More about the future of journalism

I recently came across a whole series of articles dealing with the way that journalism is or is not taking advantage of social media.  Lately, there’s been some discussion about how the PR field has embraced Web 2.0 (Kintzler) in much more substantial ways than news media companies.  Continuing in that vein, Social Media Today provides some advice for journalism. First is a definition of social media: “In essence, it’s using technology to communicate and interact in new ways and share elements like text, photos, audio and videos.”  Seems like that would be an obvious fit for newspapers. But, then the article veers into the area that is most uncomfortable . “Why rely on a journalist to portray your client in a positive light when you can immediately hand-deliver the news to the people who care to know about it? Why buy an ad, when you can recruit a strong following of friends and fans who vouch for your brand or product?”

Another Kintzler story goes further with advice: He talks about journalists as problem solvers, newspapers as community centers, and newspapers as a social news source.  I have long said that the people who need to be working in the news profession are those that understand these concepts and can manage information within this environment.  That doesn’t necessarily mean people who wrangle html and are Flash gurus.  But, it does mean people who understand both the potential and the risks of social media and user-generated content. He mentions WiredJournalists.com, which is a great social network of people that are experts/seeking to become experts in the interactive, multimedia, social media environment. I encourage all of you with an interest in the field to join.

The article mentions the NY Times as an innovator in this area.  It links to a story about how the Times is opening up its API to developers, much like that of major social networks like Facebook.   That’s how they have been able to grow so quickly.  This article quotes Aron Pilhofer, interactive editor at the times, who I had the pleasure of meeting at UT this past March.  Pilhofer said “make the NYT programmable. Everything we produce should be organized data.”  This is a new way of thinking for newspapers and other news companies, but they need to get their brains around it as soon as possible.

As I was clicking around this thread, I found a few other interesting pieces.  One is a memo sent to Tribune company employees by management. The article points to two problems:

1. We are not giving readers what they want, and
2. We are printing bigger papers than we can afford to print

Yes, these are big problems.   It recommends a customer-centric model focused on unbiased journalism, local coverage, and visual media (maps, graphs, lists, rankings, stats).

Then I found this great article ranking the top 25 newspapers on their online presence. The NY Times got the best grade , a solid A.  The worst was the Sacramento Bee with a D-, but the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and Newark Star Ledger were not close behind with sold D’s.  I was also quite surprised to see that the Minneapolis Star Tribune got a B-, when the were once doing some very innovative media.  I have noticed recently that it is difficult to access multimedia projects on the site.

Another good article compared Google’s news coverage to Washington Post as a story develops.  The article demonstrates how newspaper sites are burying the things that readers need to see most.

And finally, I came across this article on two user-generated magazines.  If you thought magazines were immune to all this Web 2.0 stuff, think again.  Everywhere Magazine and JPG are two that are letting users write content and upload photos.  Everywhere actually puts out a call to users to help them with issues (“Help Us Make Issue 4,” with themes specified).  This is another example of the publication MANAGING, not dictating, the user-generated content.  I think the examples used about travel magazines are very relevant.  Why not let more people who have visited places write about them?