2017 Planned News/Events, Medium Newsroom winner

Election 2016, WBUR

About the Project

The capstone of WBUR’s Election 2016 coverage was not a radio program, but our live-updating, town-by-town map of Massachusetts voting results. The mobile- and second-screen-friendly map included vote tallies for the presidential election and our four closely watched statewide ballot questions. Users could follow along on Election Night as towns and cities reported their results; the map used color shading, with more lopsided municipal results a darker shade. Below the map was a sortable table, so users could see which towns voted most heavily, for instance, for Hillary Clinton or now-President Trump.

Our map (along with national results embedded via NPR and AP) paired with live coverage and analysis. And this year, we expanded our live special coverage on the radio with Facebook Live video. We had the camera rolling for nearly five hours — starting with a special hour-long episode of On Point before polls closed, and then rolling coverage through the end of the night. The video brought users into the studio, and we also had a second camera on a handmade electoral map, which one of our producers filled in as states were called.

Our visual plan for the day and night was focused on multiple mobile platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat. Our photographers spread out to polling places throughout the region, and then captured reactions as the results came in. Our photos from Wellesley College, where Clinton attended and where she has strong support, were particularly striking, as the students’ faces turned from hope to dejection. Also included here is a YouTube of our Snapchat story, for which we asked voters about the issues that brought them to the polls.

Of course, our primary responsibility came before Election Day, in helping our users and listeners understand the public policy issues and implications of the individual electoral contests. While the Clinton-Trump race received plenty of attention, we took particular interest in breaking down the statewide ballot questions. We produced at least one feature report and a short explainer video on each question, and we also hosted and live-streamed debates on all four. Our collective reporting on the ballot questions really, to us, represented the “public” aspect of our role as public media. And, our polling on the four questions helped shape the debates around the issues.