Note to Newsrooms: Election Coverage Doesn’t Have to Be a Horse Race

A Pilot Project at Two Small, Local Papers Shows the Power of Connecting with the Disconnected 

What if news outlets could engage in conversations with residents in their communities who don’t read the paper, don’t watch the news, and may or may not vote?

What if, in so doing, they could forge a new path in elections coverage that might actually be meaningful to the sizable chunk of the population that journalism doesn’t typically touch?

And what if, in the process, they got beyond political sniping and looked at the deeper, nuanced issues across the ideological spectrum?

That’s the challenge Ben DeJarnette aimed to address with Bellwether, a pilot project he conceived ahead of the mid-term election to work with two small newsrooms to see what would happen if those connections were made. I spoke with DeJarnette both before the mid-terms, when the project was in its early, and after the election, when it was completed.