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Election online: did the bells and whistles stack up?

From social media election debates, to interactives and games, NewsMediaWorks takes a look at how news media companies enhanced their election coverage and reader engagement in the digital space. Podcast: papers in politics  Front pages capture the drama of Election 2016 Some executions existed purely in the online space, others had a print or a...

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From social media election debates, to interactives and games, NewsMediaWorks takes a look at how news media companies enhanced their election coverage and reader engagement in the digital space.

Some executions existed purely in the online space, others had a print or a real life element.

Some were serious and in-depth, others were just a bit of fun.

Across News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media and APN News & Media, we examine various digital executions and how they fared in attracting audiences and boosting engagement.

The Lego Election: Fairfax Media

Launch date: July 2
Users: 800,000



“With every project we do, we aim to learn something new. This one was about rapid deployment and using 3D models with live data.”
Matt Martel, executive editor – photography and presentation

Fairfax Media plugged the Australian Electoral Commission’s results feed into a 3D Lego model of Australia and its electorates.

The interactive model was updated throughout election night to show which party was leading in each electorate, what the swing was and how other candidates were performing.

The Lego Election was refined throughout the weekend and also included a link to an “adult”, non-Lego version.


YourVote: The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age

Launch date: June 7
Participants: 270,000
Participants who responded to all statements: 240,000
Average time spent: 5 minutes and 40 seconds
Unique views on web page: 5 millionYourVote

“YourVote was a huge success, both as an audience engagement experiment, and a participatory journalism project …. Our audiences contributed rich data about their voting intentions and perspectives on a range of policy statements and issues.”
Julie Posetti, YourVote research editor

YourVote is an interactive tool that helped readers discover how their political leanings correlate with the positions of the major political parties.

Participants are asked a series of questions relating to the key issues of the 2016 election and then placed on a spectrum alongside the Coalition, Labor and The Greens.

Dozens of stories and some data visualisations were built off the back of the YourVote data.



Facebook Election Debate: News.com.au

Launch date: June 17
Views on Facebook:
Comments: 40,000
Shares: 2,450
Reach of video post: 3.1 million
Questions submitted: 3,000


“Clearly there are other digital boundaries to push with something like this, but I think that this was a great first step in enabling a digital source such as News.com.au to present information about something as important as an election in this way.”
Julian Delany, chief digital officer NewsLifeMedia

News.com.au partnered with Facebook to host Australia’s first social media federal election debate.

The livestream debate between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attracted considerable engagement online with thousands commenting and asking questions of the leaders on social media.


Instagram series ‘Election 2016: Our Leaders’: Fairfax Media

Launch date: June 29
Views on ‘Julie Bishop’:
Views on ‘Malcolm Turnbull’:
Views on ‘Bill Shorten’: 4,963
Views on Richard Di Natale: 7,597

“During an election campaign, you get the sense that politicians go into a mode where their image is very crafted and manufactured … This project was all about eliciting a very human response to remind people that love or hate their ideas, politicians are people too.”
Nic Walker, Fairfax Media photographer

In a co-production with Instagram, Fairfax Media produced “moving portraits” of 10 leading politicians making various expressions.

The idea was to capture the inner emotions and humanity of these political figures and distribute that through one of the most accessible social media platforms: Instagram.

The project culminated in exhibitions at Sydney’s Martin Place and Melbourne’s Federation Square ahead of the election.


Fair Go For Regional Australia: News Corp Australia and Australian Regional Media

Launch date: April 3
Average weekly reach: 110,642
Highest weekly reach: 229,604
Total post reach:
1.7 million
Posts shared: 6324
Post comments: 3345
Videos consumed: 90 hours’

*Statistics refer to the Fair Go Facebook page, and do not account for traffic on individual masthead’s websites or other social channels.



“On behalf of our millions of readers (and voters) we pledge this: Whoever wins this weekend will be held to account. The Fair Go campaign is not ending, it has just started. We ask for fairness. It is the right thing to do. Please do it.”
Open letter co-signed by 19 News Corp and ARM editors

News Corp Australia and APN’s Australian Regional Media united to demand politicians address the issues faced by regional Australians, and ensure they were not overlooked when it came to funding and policy.

While the campaign had a number of strong executions in print, including an open letter to politicians signed by 19 editors, it had significant engagement on social media.

The campaign secured a number of victories for regional communities including a funding for a $250 million stadium complex and an agreement ensuring a regional development fund is not tapped for capital cities projects.


Political Animals – Feeding Time: Fairfax Media

Launch date: June 2


“This worked really well as far as learning how to do something different … Everything we do, we want it to be so simple that we don’t have to include instructions. We nearly got there with the game.”
Matt Martel, executive editor – photography and presentation

Political Animals – Feeding Time is free online game built for mobile that is more fun than factual. ­

Players can choose to be either Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten and collect points by catching falling coins and avoiding nasties like onions thrown by Tony Abbott.

Illustrations were created by Fairfax cartoonist, John Shakespeare, who’s previously worked on other games launched during past election campaigns.


State of Play: The Australian

“That has been a great little tool to sit in beside any number of stories to help bring them to life …. It has prompted (journalists) to offer up more stories than they might’ve done in the past when it might’ve been harder to communicate what they were trying to say with just words alone.”
Andrew Webster, digital editor The Australian

State of Play is an interactive that allows readers to model election outcomes based on Newspoll data.

Readers can model their own election results in each electorate by plugging in a marginal swing of their choice.

No readership data has been provided to NewsMediaWorks.

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