Rise Above the Fray with Election Coverage

By Steve Schwaid, VP of Digital StrategiesiStock_000005601645Small

We’re coming up on one of the more important mid-term elections we have seen in recent years. Couple this with declining newspaper readership, an increase in partisan driven websites and battles on social media over policies and candidates, and it means there is an opportunity for local newsrooms to rise above the fray.

Now is the time for local TV newsrooms to dedicate some resources to helping viewers understand the issues and examine what the candidates are saying and hold them accountable – no matter what party, no matter what view.

Viewers are increasingly questioning the relevance of local news. This is a good opportunity to show them it is.

To stand out, offer something exclusive.  Go in-depth on a series of issues. Examine where tax dollars are being spent and how much taxes would need to increase to accomplish campaign promises. Or, provide exclusive local data on voter opinions.  CJ&N can provide quick, low-cost customized polling on local issues that will provide valuable unique content for every platform as well as opportunities for publicity.

Here are a few more things to consider:

– Create a LOCAL political section on your website with a page for each local race and issue. (This could also be a revenue generator for sales.)

– Post/link to the candidate’s website and platform.

– Have each candidate write for you a paragraph or two on the issues. Try to get them to avoid the classic candidate blah-blah and get to specifics.

– Create an online chat with the candidates – not a debate but more of a conversation – and use this online and promote on-air. Don’t do this from a studio; use a more informal setting.  It doesn’t have to be a multi-camera shoot. One camera shot in a coffee shop will make it feel much more authentic.

Right now it’s all about the clarity of the facts, the issues and the platforms. Viewers and users want to know specifically what a candidate will do. If this candidate is going for re-election, pull out video from the last campaign and see how well the candidate met the promises they made.

This is an important time for local TV with local candidates. You’re NOT a partisan cable channel and that is something that’s promotable – being a truly unbiased, balanced local source of information. Be the advocate to help users and viewers understand the facts, specifics of what a candidate stands for and what they plan to do if they get elected.

For more information on polling, contact Mary Beth Marks, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at mbmarks@cjni.com.

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