Media fight for top election coverage: National Journal, Washington Post, NPR

By Phoebe Chau

With the US presidential election approaching, the news industry is feeling the heat as media outlets try to outcompete one another in election coverage and attracting the biggest audiences.

The National Journal, The Washington Post and National Public Radio are long-established media organizations in America that have tried out new ways of telling one of the biggest election stories of our time.


Jody Brannon said graphics and charts are more attractive to today’s audiences because they don’t want to read long news articles.

National Journal
Jody Brannon, Editor

1. What will you cover in the presidential election?

I am looking at how diversity in America is changing policies and politics. As an election challenge, we are now trying to build charts and maps, looking exclusively at people of color who are running for Congress. We are trying to make some historical maps from 10 years ago, how many Hispanics, Asians, Indian Americans, Native Americans, Blacks, and then mix-raced people are running for office. That’s going to show us over time how our nation is becoming much more a melting pot, balancing minority and majority.

2. Will you make any special arrangements for National Journal‘s coverage?

I have only worked in the Internet age for big companies, where we had access to the Associated Press for election results, and we figured out ways to … get the data. That’s a lot of money. So instead of buying access of Associated Press data, we are going to be watching other people post the data, and then bring parts of it to our website.

3. How do you see Facebook as a social media tool for reporting?

Did you know you have a better engagement on Facebook on Saturday mornings? That is the best time of the week to have the biggest click-through, because people have time, they share and talk to their friends. The other thing I have learned is that on Facebook,  charts and graphics are much more likely to be shared. When you post a photo, the share rate goes up by 30% more. So for me as a manager, I think it’s better to take the time to make one of those graphics.


Emily Abbott Dagger said on the election day, National Public Radio staff will do their coverage in a studio called Studio 4A.

National Public Radio
Emily Abbott Dagger, Audience & Station Partnership Associate (Central)

1.How will you cover election day?

We have Studio 4A set up to cover the presidential election, so next Tuesday [November 6] there will be reporters, correspondents, staff, digital service people, bloggers and others at all these different tables around the room. Everyone will be monitoring either feeds from different states or results from other network, international and national broadcasters, such as CNN.

2. Why did you choose Studio 4A as a base for reporting the election?

The reason we do the presidential election coverage here [Studio 4A] is because you can have all the reporters here, you can have them typing the story here. We also want it to be more like a newsroom, to be more authentic, like everything is going fast. People have this picture of a newsroom after they have seen plays or All the Presidents Men and things like that. They want to hear that hum, all the vibrancy here.

3. How many people are there on the social media team?

We have a huge social media team. We have one person here just to manage the comments on the website. We have at least one Twitter account from each department, and everyone in the department needs to tweet at any time. Every show has a Twitter account and a person dedicated to that.


The Washington Post
Alma Gill

1. How many reporters will cover election day?

We will have about 250 people working on election night, including print and online. It’s a longer day, so everyone has to be here by 5.30am and we are working most likely until 11.30pm. Some folks will even stay until 2am, so that we can make sure that we have everything covered.

Haley explains that The Washington Post  now uses various social media tools, such as Twitter, Live Google Hangout, and Facebook to get audience attention.

Haley Crum, Interactivity Producer

2. How do you use social media to help cover the election?

When social media first became big, people used it just to push out contacts. But now you have to engage your audience and create a sense of a community. So now we interact with them a lot. We also see it as a news gathering tool, like if there is a rally, we may ask what they think about it, and ask them to send us photos and videos. We have all these people out there to help us, and we have to utilize them, as they will be the first people to arrive at the scene.

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