Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gerrymandering: How multi-media are you getting with coverage of the redistricting process?

Multi-media story on gerrymandering
All across the United States right now — from the national congressional level to the countywide level — redistricting is taking place.
This is where those pesky political maps get redrawn.
In recent years, we've seen lots of jostling locally as politicians prepared for this moment — each party trying to get a majority in key areas so they may have control of the process.
And of course, now that the redistricting time has arrived, there's no shortage of gerrymandering accusations to go around.
In Michigan, our statewide legislators are responsible for redrawing maps for both themselves and the national congressional districts. At the county level, a five person committee draws the boundaries for the county commission districts — those five people are the county clerk, prosecutor, treasurer and chairman of the two major political parties.
At the statewide level, the Republicans have the majority in terms of redrawing these maps.
At the county level, the Democrats have the majority.
This is creating quite the local battle, as county Republicans accuse county Democrats of gerrymandering. In response, county Democrats are crying foul about the statewide maps — saying their Republican counterparts are the ones doing all the gerrymandering.
In effect, it can be summed up like this:
"Your party is gerrymandering!" cries the Republican to the Democrat.
"No, your party is!" cries the Democrat to the Republican.

So, how are you covering this in your state, community, etc.?

I advise journalists to take note of the work done by our political reporter Charles Crumm, who has been dashing out of the office right and left the past few weeks to take video of politicians on either side of the aisle defending their party's map and crying foul about the others.

Last week, our always colorful county executive (a Republican) called our county prosecutor (a Democrat) a "political hack" because of the map she created.
The county prosecutor responded Monday by saying she wasn't going to 'battle' the executive, but alluded to the statewide maps as being more politically biased.
When the maps were first introduced, Crumm uploaded each to Scribd. Now that specific maps have been chosen, he has all of the embed codes and/or links ready to go for each story he writes.

Additionally, every time he darts out of the office for more interviews, he's taking his video camera with him. The issue has spread into outlying issues too, like who's going to support who for future offices based on whose maps are deemed to be more offensive. In other words, he's coming back with not just one, but several video clips to accompany each story.

Check out how Crumm uploaded each story, giving one video placement within the story and linking to others in the text where it makes sense. Of course, links to the maps themselves are also right in the text.

It's a nice way to keep the story looking tidy, but yet offer readers a great variety of multi-media content to really expand their understanding of the issue.

Here are the articles:
L. Brooks Patterson encourages Bishop to run against Cooper for prosecutor's job WITH VIDEOS
County prosecutor, executive at odds over gerrymandering on political maps WITH VIDEOS

One thing we'll be adding soon: links to previous stories.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Take advantage of Associated Press videos via Youtube

I opened up a wire story this morning about a 7-year-old from the thumb area of Michigan who was charged after driving a car 20 miles in an attempt to get to his dad's house.
Check out the AP Channel on Youtube
It's been a hot story in Michigan for the past week and I couldn't help but notice "AP Video" marked on the story file.
I looked in my AP exchange account to find the video, but had no luck. I called the customer service support line (which is 877-836-9477, by the way) and talked with someone about getting the video.
While he searched for a way to get it to me, I brought up Youtube.com to check there.
I found the AP channel and while scrolling down, I noticed a whole bunch of videos that could go with hot wire stories we posted today — there was a video of a possible twister striking the racetrack at Churchill Downs and a video on the Boston mobster 'Whitey' Bulger being arrested, a couple videos pertaining to 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn's death and more.
The video I was originally looking for — about the 7-year-old driver — was also there.
I told the customer service representative that the videos were available on their Youtube channel and from there, I could just embed them. I thanked him for his help anyhow and hung up.
From now on, I'll be checking the AP Youtube channel daily. There's a bunch of good national stuff on there and I recommend everyone in our organization make a regular habit of checking — especially whenever you see the "AP Video" on stories you plan to upload.
I've also subscribed to the channel and set myself up with email notifications for all new videos — also not a bad idea, I think.