Top 5 Tools to Beat Election News Coverage


Like many of you I will be plopping down in front of the television tomorrow night to watch election coverage.  But you can bet that my top 5 websites, or web 2.0 tools, will be the place to find out what’s happening BEFORE the traditional news outlets.

And, after eight long years of the current administration and twenty-two month Presidential campaign, it kind of feels like Santa Claus is finally coming to town!  I just hope he brings both President Obama and a defeated Proposition 8. I’m both nervous and excited!  I vividly remember watching the 2000 election from the comfort of my just-after-college Midtown Sacramento apartment with utter confusion trying to understand Tim Russert’s whiteboard and who was actually President.  From 2004 I remember little of election night coverage.  The kick-in-the-stomach feeling that surfaced the next morning when I realized we had four more years of status quo pretty much overshadows any other recollections, but I’m sure I was seated in front of the boob-tube.

Tomorrow I plan on watching things a little differently.  Yes the TV will be on, but so will my computer.  While the paid political pundits report their exit poll-based predictions I plan to also watching what everyday pundits like you and me report through various web 2.0 tools.  Over the summer during the Chino Hills Earthquake I discovered that watching large-scale events through the eyes of regular Joe Schmos can be an amazing thing.  So you might wonder, “What will I be watching?” Here’s the list.

  1. Twitter Search – I always find this site fascinating.  Simply type in a key word and see what any Twitter user is posting related to that topic.  Here’s what everyone is saying about Obama right now.  While you’re there look for the Trending Topics box.  You’ll be amazed!
  2. Facebook – My Facebook network is a pretty eclectic mix of high school, college, and recent friends or colleagues.  Since we live all over the country (and the world) the perspectives and items posted tend to be very interesting and diverse.  I’m curious what McCain and Obama supporters will be posting.
  3. Blog Search – Using Google Blog Search or Technorati I plan on regularly checking to see what people are posting to their blogs related to election night returns.
  4. Flickr Uploads – Periodically I think it will be interesting to see what pictures people are uploading.  Will it be screen shots of their televisions or “I Voted” stickers?  I’m not sure, but I bet it will be interesting!
  5. YouTube Search – Just like the Flicker Uploads above I’m curious to see what people will put on YouTube.  This year voters have posted tons of personal videos related to the candidates and the race.  Will the victor’s supporters post celebratory videos?  Will the loser’s supporters post something productive and reconciliatory or negative and divisive?

These are just five sites I plan on regularly visiting throughout the night.  I’m sure I will also be stopping by Politico, The New York Times, Huffington Post, FivethirtyeightCrooks and Liars and The Onion to keep things entertaining.  I won’t be leaving mainstream traditional print media out either.  The Chicago Tribune will be interesting to check out for Obama’s election party coverage along with the Arizona Republic.  Since I’m a Californian and passionate about Prop 8 the LA Times, and San Francisco Chronicle will be musts as well.  Anything else I should follow?  Let me know!  I’d like to find more international resources.  If you’re online tomorrow night just look for me on Twitter (@ucdjoe).


11/4/08 5am Follow Up: I’ve gotten a couple of tweets asking, “Why are you doing this?”  I’m an educator.  I’m passionate about learning, understanding, and putting into practice.  Social media is changing the world around us.  Tonight’s a perfect opportunity to settle in and marvel at how much the times have changed.  I’m sure I will also find a few resources for my classroom full of digital natives.

Photo: US Election Night Set Up by Rob Fenwick on Flickr

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