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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - March 2019

Episode 010: Covering the Elections From the Perspective of a Media Analyst

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The next US election is coming up. Well, it's about 20 months away, but as you have probably noticed, the 'election cycle' has already started. And, as we all know, the way we cover elections is not the best it could be.

So, in this article (which you can also listen to as a podcast), I will do something special. I'm going to talk about some of the higher-end strategies and concerns that we should consider as publishers. More specifically, I'm going to imagine that I am a wealthy philanthropist (which I'm not) and I have just decided to publish a new newspaper with the aim of covering the election. And the question is then, how would I, as a media analyst, put that together? How different would that be from what we see today?

Sounds fun? Well, let's get to it.

Some quick notes

Before we start, there are a few quick things I want to mention.

First of all, I am a media analyst. What this means is that it's my job to help the media do better. Sometimes by helping you see a better future, but also by using constructive criticism and pointing out when we do something wrong.

What I am not is a political analyst. It's not my job to analyze the politics or try to fix our politicians. Also, I'm not a tech reporter. Many people in the industry have come to believe that the tech channels are causing a lot of the problems. And yes, there are problems on these channels (although to a much lesser degree than what most seem to think). But again, my focus is not to fix the tech channels.

Please keep this in mind as you read this. If you start to think "Oh, but this is the politicians' fault", you might be right, but this article is not about what other people do. It's about what we can do in the media.

Finally, I will be using the US election and Brexit as examples, but obviously everything here also applies to any other election coverage in any other country.

Anyway, enough about the quick notes. Let's get on and rethink how to cover an election.

Organizing a newspaper

One of the fundamental problems with newspapers is how they are defining their focus areas, or rather, how they are not defining them.

Whenever you go to a newspaper, you are usually presented with generalized topics like these: World, U.S., Politics, Business, Opinion, Tech, Science, Sports, Arts, and Video. And when it's election time, they add another section called 'Election'.

This might all sound very normal if you are a traditional newspaper, but think about what this is. When you define your coverage around topics like World, U.S., or Politics, you are not defining any specific focus. Instead, you've just put up a box that you can put your random articles into.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


—   podcast   —


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Episode 010: Covering the Elections From the Perspective of a Media Analyst


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