It's a Presidential election year, about as big a news story as there can be. But too many news organizations still are not doing a particularly good or innovative job of providing online campaign coverage that goes beyond standard print and broadcast coverage.
- PolitiFact.com, by the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, whose Truth-o-Meter is a clever way to look at the back and forth between candidates. PolitiFact is very witty and engaging about holding the candidates accountable for their statements, matched only by The Daily Show's masterful use of videos that catch contradictory statements. WashingtonPost.com has tried something sort of similar with its FactChecker blog, but FactChecker is inexplicably taking the summer off. Don't they know there's an election coming up?
- Patchwork Nation, by the Christian Science Monitor, an interesting way to try to move election coverage away from the Washington vortex. Based on 11 blogs from around the country, each attempting to represent a different voter interest group (Evangelical Epicenters, Immigration Nation, Tractor Country, and so on) Patchwork Nation offers a different perspective, for sure. But I wish it had gone farther, and opened itself up to blogs and contributions from readers all over the nation, not just those 11 blogs. That would really bring the patchwork map that dominates the site to life. Still, it's a good effort to get beyond the usual political coverage.
- Poligraph, by HealthCentral.com (another former client) does an interesting job of tracking the candidates' positions on health care issues, with an easy to understand interactive graphic tool. You can even compare your own stance on various health issues with the candidates'. Extra credit: HealthCentral has made it easy for other sites to add Poligraph to their political coverage as an embeddable widget. One only wishes there were similar tools for other major issues.
- YouDecide, by San Francisco public TV station KQED, offers a smart interactive tool that both assesses your stands on various issues and challenges your position through a series of questions. It's an interesting approach, and it's also available for embedding in other sites (hint: embeddable widgets like this are a great way to spread a brand name).