Need to Know Election Edition: November 14, 2022

Note from the editor: Congratulations on making it through the midterms! Enjoy some rest and take some time to reflect on your organization’s coverage. I hope you’ve found this newsletter series helpful — please let us know what you think by taking this one-minute survey.

Assess your election coverage

Although the results of a few key races are still being assessed, last week’s elections occurred without widespread false narratives taking hold, but with fewer TV viewers than the 2018 elections. Mainstream media was quick to declare the “red wave” nonexistent as results rolled in, but critics have pointed out that the media had a large part in the narrative of a GOP sweep leading up to the election. 

In an article Charlotte Klein wrote for Vanity Fair about the disconnect between the media narrative and polling results, she notes that a Politico article published prior to the election warned of voters’ disappointment with the president and his party, before noting that its own poll results showed higher support for Democratic congressional candidates. 

Rest is important, but don’t forget to take this time to take stock of your coverage — what went well, what could have gone better and how you can continue to cover the people and policies your community voted for. 

TRY IT OUT NOW

  Do a retrospective while it’s fresh. Process what went well and what didn’t. Are you listening to feedback? How flexible is your coverage? Are you informing future work with what you’re saying? This framework from 2020 is a good place to start.

Now that they’re elected, track what politicians do in office. There are many resources to help you make sure you’re holding people accountable for what they’re doing. Consider an approach similar to ProPublica’s Represent project.

Make a plan to continue to build community relationships you may have established during election coverage. Here are some tips.

Train for the marathon. This work is hard. You’re tired and you’ve been covering big stories for years. Take the stress of the election cycle seriously by building in recovery periods for your team and yourself. It doesn’t benefit anyone if people are too exhausted to work. Make sure everyone in the newsroom is on board with this, and don’t forget to set up boundaries for yourself. 

DIG DEEPER

+ How the “red wave” narrative took shape among corporate media

+ Misinformation failed to take hold ahead of the U.S. midterms

WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING

+ Here’s how local news outlets engaged with underrepresented communities during the elections

+ Spotlight PA is hosting a free live event detailing how winners plan to run the state

+ Judy Woodruff is leaving PBS NewsHour anchor desk to launch a two-year project exploring the country’s deep political divides