HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Open-mic journalism: How The Arizona Republic found success with storytelling events
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 12, 2012, 1 p.m.
Audience & Social
fantasy-elex

For politically playful news orgs, the 2012 election means social interactivity

Media companies experiment with creating elections tools for social engagement.

Wanna make your own over-the-top Bobby Newport-style political attack ad?

PBS NewsHour is on it. This week it launched Ad Libs 2012, an interactive feature that has you pick quotes and photos from your own Facebook profile and cobbles them together in an attack ad against yourself.

The idea is to engage voters by highlighting some of the oldest campaign-ad tricks in the book: Roiling storm clouds, ominous voiceovers, out-of-context quotes, and so on. As you build your campaign ad, PBS NewsHour features links to various historical ads, pointing out tactics used to denote negativity. Check it out:

Ad Libs 2012 was created using Mozilla’s Popcorn toolkit, and the team at PBS NewsHour collaborated with Mozilla and Ocupop. (The project was funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.)

PBS NewsHour’s creative director, Travis Daub, says they opted to build something linked to Facebook to keep things simple — users don’t have to upload any photos or text because Ad Libs 2012 uses what’s already in their Facebook profiles — and so that people can only make attack ads about themselves. “We were quite frankly concerned about people misusing it, taking the tool and using it to bully other kids in high school,” Daub told me.

Plenty of other organizations have found ways to use Facebook for election-related games. Over the summer, MTV launched Fantasy Election ’12, in which players pick teams of presidential and congressional candidates who get points for honesty, polling well, and social media engagement. Honolulu Civil Beat created its own civics-oriented Facebook game, Our Hawaiian Spring, with a goal to encourage voter turnout in Hawaii, where it’s the lowest in the country. (Disclosure: I’m a contributing reporter at Civil Beat, where I used to work full time.)

After the vice presidential debate last night, The Guardian introduced a feature called “Spin It!” which is kind of like a politically-themed digital version of magnetic poetry. It lets you select words from Joe Biden and Paul Ryan quotes to form misleading sentences.

Politically oriented or not, the team over at BuzzFeed often finds ways to interact with readers. Recent example: Make Your Own Paul Ryan Photoshoot. That project skews goofy where other news organizations go a bit wonkier, but the idea is the same: Bring people together to play in the election space.

PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan says the gamification of the election makes sense for the first time this year: Many newsrooms are more willing to try new things, and audiences’ expectations about social interactivity have shifted. Elections-related interactivity used to mean voting in a web survey about who you liked better in a debate, or taking an issues quiz to see which candidate shared your views. Those kinds of features, while still around, now seem positively quaint.

“Thanks to all of these different apps, the different level of capability of how content is created and how it’s interactive, they have a different level of expectation and a different level of understanding,” Sreenivasan told me. “If you threw this in front of someone five years ago, they would flip out. This is a whole level of shared knowledge that we didn’t have before.”

POSTED     Oct. 12, 2012, 1 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Audience & Social
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Open-mic journalism: How The Arizona Republic found success with storytelling events
The four-year-old program has helped boost the newspaper’s events business and helped strengthen relationships with the community through nights of storytelling.
Newsonomics: Buying Yelp — and making it the next core of the local news and information business
The pricetag would be high, but it might be worth it to reassemble one part of the old newspaper bundle — tying together local news and local services.
Crossing the streams: Why competing publications are deciding to team up on podcasts
Low financial risk and a desire for word-of-mouth sharing have led news sites to collaborate, sharing audience and infrastructure.
What to read next
953
tweets
The State of the News Media 2015: Newspapers ↓, smartphones ↑
The annual omnibus report from Pew outlines a story of continued trends more than radical change.
561The Upshot uses geolocation to push readers deeper into data
The New York Times story changes its text depending on where you’re reading it: “It’s a fine line between a smarter default and being creepy.”
422Knight Foundation invests $1 million in creator-driven podcast collective Radiotopia
The money will help PRX’s collective of public media-minded shows develop sustainable business models and expand with new shows and producers.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The New Yorker
Knight Foundation
OpenFile
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Talking Points Memo
Publish2
Amazon
Current TV
Daily Mail
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
AOL
The New York Times