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What I learned in my second year on Substack
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June 4, 2013, 12:21 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   June 4, 2013

New York Times developer Derek Willis writes today about how data journalists can learn to better cover elections, specifically when it comes to “targeting and predictive analysis.” He warns against analyzing political campaigns as though they were consumer ad campaigns, and urges restraint both when it comes to panicking about control of personal data and imagining the potential Big Data has to actually change elections.

News organizations should be doing post-mortems using 2004, 2008 and 2012 voter history and registration data to figure out where the “new” voters came from, who they might be and how solid they are in terms of voting behavior. Although no one at the conference was certain that micro-targeting would become a staple of every campaign anytime soon, I think we all acknowledged that it is coming to an election near you. That warning applies to journalists, too. The way to start is to begin valuing information about voters as much as campaigns do, and to try and emulate the data efforts of the campaigns, so that we can more accurately assess their work.

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