Rub-a-dub-dub, the Election Hubs

With the election just around the corner, a number of online political hubs have been cropping up. In this installment of Fenton Lab, I’ll serve as your Election Hub Guide, taking you through three different companies’ approaches to engaging people with the 2012 race.

At YouTube, we do more than show you videos of dogs jumping into bushes.

First up: Google/YouTube got their political game on this year by creating a video-centric election hub. Media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, and Univision all provide the channel with clips of breaking news and analysis.

The hub plays host to sessions chaired by some of the leading political kids in the nation; it also aggregates the most important political moments captured on video. The easy-to-navigate platform is full of rich content to keep you entertained and informed from now until November 6th. Through integration with Twitter and Google+, you get the chance to “have your say” about the videos. Important analysis: the design is also quite pretty. Have a look at the hub here.

But what about us? We’re Facebook, we have more data on you than you even wanna KNOW.

Okay fine, Zuck, we’re coming to you. The U.S. Politics on Facebook page curates posts by politicians, elected officials, and political campaigns, providing a fascinating look at how candidates are using the social networking site to reach voters. The page, which also features news and updates, is designed to “encourage a digital dialogue” around the 2012 election.

Here’s where the data comes in: Facebook partnered with CNN to launch an Election Insights hub that uses Facebook’s “People Talking About This” metric to reveal how many people are talking about the presidential and vice presidential candidates at any given time. So as you’re sitting there alone on Saturday night on your laptop and you think to yourself, “Hey, you know what I want to do? I want  to use Facebook’s Election Insights to sort its data by state, gender, age, and time frame!” – well lucky you, you can. The good: slick data visualization, snazzy to see who’s getting more buzz. The bad: since we don’t know if people are saying good things (“Obama! That guy can bust a move!“) or not-so-good things (“Obama!? He’s no Big Bird…”), the numbers don’t tell us anything about how people may vote come November.

Hang on, do you know who we are? We’re The New York TimesWe are always ON IT.

Gah! Fine, but last one. Another Election Hub worth noting is The New York Times‘ The Agenda. The Agenda is a Tumblr aiming to inject more of the meaty issues into campaign coverage. The Tumblr page is split into five key issue areas: Economy, Security, World, Health and Planet. Here’s how The Times explains it: “Over the next few months and across several Times blogs we plan to put some of the truly big issues on the table, whether or not they are surfacing on the campaign trail, and invite you to explore them with us.” With so much noise out there, it’s nice to see a hub that shines a light on the issues that matter.

It’s always interesting to see how the media adapts its coverage for the digital age. In the case of The Times, Tumblr is an ideal blogging tool as the content can be easily re-blogged. You can tag posts too, making the content easier to find.


Which hub will you be following for the elections? The video-heavy one, the online-social-chatter one, or the issues-based one?