Sharif Durhams, social media editor for the Journal Sentinel, visited our elections class Tuesday.
It was interesting to hear about how the Journal Sentinel approached Election Day in terms of social media. The paper posted reporters’ tweets through a widget that automatically fetched them from Twitter. Reporters would also call or use their laptop to transmit longer updates, which appeared on their “All Politics” blog.
As an interactive piece, they had a mood map, which allowed people to share their thoughts and feelings about voting and the election. Those comments were overlaid as color-coded dots on a map. For instance, people who said they were happy showed up as yellow. The person’s full comments showed up if you hovered over the dot.
It is neat to see everyone’s impressions laid over a map like that. It would have been interesting to see a pie chart or bar graph breaking down the proportions. The map isn’t a scientific poll, but nonetheless, an addition showing some sort of breakdown would be nice. I hope the Journal Sentinel continues doing interactive features like that — I look forward to what they come up with.
We also talked about the legality of taking photos at polling places, something that came up when some of my classmates (but not me) tried to live-blog on Election Day. Durhams said taking pictures should be legal at polling places, as long as it doesn’t interfere with voting, contrary to the signs in the AMU that categorically banned taking pictures.
It was really a long, winding conversation, but I liked it and learned quite a few useful bits and pieces.
More to read
—For the 2008 election, the Journal Sentinel tracked how long people reported waiting to vote on a similar map. Since smartphones were less common then, they allowed people to call a phone number to record a response. Someone had to answer the phones, and Durhams did — for 5 hours.
—My classmate Bryne Ramella also wrote about Durhams’ visit at her blog.
—My professor describes Sharif Durhams’ visit back in February on his blog. Interestingly, that visit came soon after Herman Cain famously flubbed a question about Libya the Journal Sentinel asked him.