Working on this project was helpful in terms of gaining journalistic experience. I learned how to get in contact with politicians and their spokespeople. I also feel more comfortable conducting interviews and have a better idea about how to word interview questions to get more complete responses.
However, I was a little frustrated that both the College Republicans and College Democrats could not agree to debate before our class.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, however, it took me a while to figure out which direction I wanted to take it. It was challenging because political advertising is such a broad topic, and there are so many sub-categories that I wanted to expand on, such as digital, social media, TV, radio, outdoor etc.
This 2012 presidential election puts the state of Wisconsin in the political spotlight once again as the battleground state’s vote is coming down to the wire. After the Democrats unsuccessfully tried to recall Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin quickly turned from a state that would seem to vote democratic for a seventh consecutive election into a swing state.
While writing my story on why Wisconsin is considered a battleground state in the 2012 election, I became much more informed about the election as a whole. Wisconsin is a state that both candidates are trying to control because in doing so, it can mean that other swing states, like, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Idaho can follow suit. This in turn will provide a huge boost for the respective candidate and can propel the candidate towards winning the election. After interviewing Professor David Canon of the UW-Madison Political Science Department and Dr. John Buenker, an Emeritus Professor at UW-Parkside and renowned Wisconsin historian, I learned how complex the Wisconsin political system is on the state level. It is not right to believe that Wisconsin is a Democratic state simply because it has voted Democratic the last six elections.
Overall, I really enjoyed researching and writing my piece about early voting. Before I began researching this topic, I was largely unaware about how early voting worked and how it differed from state to state. Being from Minnesota, I voted absentee via mail and had to fill in why I would not be able to vote in-person on Election Day. I didn’t know before doing this piece that in many states, including Wisconsin, people are able to vote early under a “no-excuse” policy, meaning they can vote early for whatever reason. Overall, I learned a great deal about the early voting process as well as the distinction between early voting and in-person absentee voting, which is the type of early voting Wisconsin uses.
My process of conducting interviews and completing my profile of College Democrats Chair Chris Hoffman was pretty straightforward. I think I had an especially easy time considering I had a single source story.
The bulk of my work went into creating interview questions, which I felt yielded good responses that made for an interesting story. I was surprised at how much Chris Hoffman was willing to talk, especially considering how busy he is right now with the election looming in the near future. I really appreciated how genuine Chris’s responses were to my questions.
As a 20-year-old college student, I tend to get most of my information online. Twitter and Facebook constantly update me. Yes, when I have free time I do read the newspaper but it’s a lot easier to get up to date information from the web. This is a trait of my generation: we have grown up reading, but on our computers, not in newspapers.
My prediction is that as the years go on, social media will just become more and more influential. I asked several classmates, friends and random people on the street what they thought about social media in this campaign and every college person I asked thought social media played a huge role in giving them information. The older generation, like my parents, tended to get their news from the paper.
I think that Obama is doing a great job in reaching the younger demographic. He has grasped the power of the social and mobile media platform, which allows for efficient communication and can be manipulated to educate, create ideas and even to raise money.
The part I enjoyed most about writing this story was talking to various people. This, to me, is one of the greatest parts of being a journalist. I was a little weary of the topic at first, but that quickly changed once I began speaking to different sources.
I started gaining more knowledge about the polling process and potential reasons guiding people to possibly vote for a Republican on the state level and a Democrat on a national level. Once I began hearing different explanations for why Wisconsinites may do this, I became more excited about writing the story. Being excited about the topic definitely makes a story come together easier and better written.