Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Covering Elections

Before the Election

POSTURING – Who’s thinking about re-election? Who’s considering a challenge?

FILING STORIES – Who are they? Why are they running? Who's behind them?

Covering the Campaign

SEE HOW THEY RUN – Events (picnics, appearances), debates and forums. What are they saying? Is it consistent? What aren’t they talking about?

SELLING THE CANDIDATE – What’s true? What’s misleading? What does it say about style and integrity? What kind of advertising works? Truth-in-advertising stories are more common these days.

FOLLOW THE MONEY & SUPPORT – Who's giving it and why? It’s an important gauge of strength in big races. In lesser races, it’s at least window into who’s supporting a candidate, which can be telling.

WHO ARE THESE PEOPE? – Good profiles take time, but they can give readers a peek into a candidate’s head and heart. What makes a candidate tick? What were his or her formative experiences? Who are their friends and enemies? How are they perceived?

THE POLLS – Beware. At best, they’re only snapshots of voters’ leanings. At worst, they’re campaign devices themselves. Who’s doing the poll? How are the questions phrased? What’s the margin of error?

THE ISSUES – What are they? What's at stake? Are the candidates talking about issues voters want discussed? Are they ducking others? Some news organizations sponsor town halls or focus groups to help guide their coverage.

OTHER FACTORS – What about those third-party candidates? What effect are bloggers having on the race? What steps are the parties taking to ensure that their supporters actually vote? Are their problems with registration?

Election Night

WINNERS AND LOSERS – Reaction? Difficulties in voting or counting the vote. Where will the candidates be? Got cell phones?

After the Vote

HOW DID THEY WIN? -- How did a candidate win? What part of the city, county or state gave him or her the margin of victory? What do candidates, voters, expert observers say were the factors?

FOLLOWING THROUTH – Are they making good on campaign promises? Are donors with vested interests getting special treatment?

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