PBS Election 2012: Trusted. In-depth. Independent.

By Josie Keller, PBS Interactive
Over the next several months, while commercial broadcasting focuses primarily on breaking election news, PBS will be striving to provide in-depth information on the candidates and issues that will inform voters and help them make an educated choice on Election Day. With November 6th drawing ever closer, I sat down with Andy Halper, Director of Election Coverage, News & Public Affairs, to learn more about #pbsElection programming and tools and see how local stations can get involved in the action.
Andy immediately emphasized, “One of the most important things a local station can do is to provide good election coverage…it’s a great public service.”
This election year, PBS is planning a multi-faceted approach that aims to raise awareness of its election coverage by branding and organizing content across all platforms – on air, online, and on smart phones and tablets. So how can #localPBS stations best leverage PBS’s incredible election content? Andy suggests a dual sided approach that provides local content complementary to the national programming* and makes use of the NewsHour’s Digital Election Tools.

Stations can easily piggyback off of PBS’s marketing efforts by creating local versions of national programming, such as a local spin on Frontline’s “The Choice,” focusing on Mayoral candidates rather than presidential candidates, while simultaneously implementing the digital tools developed by the NewsHour to supplement election coverage.

“PBS has been, and still is, at the forefront of technological change in the industry,” explains Andy, and this election season, PBS NewsHour will play a key role in linking national and local news by fully integrating on-air and online content with a sophisticated push to multiple platforms in new ways. The Digital Election Data Center, an outgrowth of the Digital Map Center, can be used by public media producers, stations, and news consumers, often as a second screen experience. The digital tools are designed so that stations can embed them on their local sites or use them for reporting purposes.

Additionally, Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour Correspondent & Director of Digital Partnerships, will head up a number of community outreach efforts to encourage a diverse audience to engage with that content. These efforts include Listen to Me, a YouTube-based project soliciting one-minute videos about what’s really bothering people this election year. These videos will be incorporated into the political and economic data that undergird the interactive Map Center. Stations will also have the opportunity to use these videos to animate and illustrate the stories they are working on locally. NewsHour is currently working to enlist interested stations, as well as a number of blogs and public media consortia that appeal to specific audiences, to encourage non-traditional users to participate. Check back for a follow up blog post on the project and how your station can get involved.

Still not sure how your station should best navigate #pbsElection coverage? Search for “Forum Post: Local Election Plans” to see what other stations have planned.

*For a full list of national #pbsElection programming, go to, click “Systemwide Announcements”, and filter by Subject: “PBS Election Coverage 2012.”

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