In terms of scale and scope, Election Day is consistently one of the biggest stories of the year. Generally presidential election years receive the most attention, and most newspapers depend on wire services to provide the results.
This year, Maine’s ballot contained a referendum to overturn a law allowing same-sex marriage. The turnout was immense (60 percent, more than double the usual turnout in an off year) and we wanted to make sure we had our own, unique coverage. The Maine Campus had been following the run-up to the election closely, and we were committed to providing up-to-the-moment coverage. We were able to avoid wire reports using easily acquired tools larger news orgs haven’t adopted yet.
We used a plugin for WordPress called Live Blogging to quickly and easily add updates to a single page. The plugin allowed two reporters to collaborate at different locations without worrying about overwriting posts and gave readers a single page to come back to to receive updates. It also tweeted (and re-tweeted) our updates so our Twitter readers could follow along.
Our updates went out faster and more frequently than larger news organizations updated their Web sites. One news organization even used our reporting to decide whether or not to call the close election.
When WordPress really showed its true colors, though, was when one of the organizations decided to declare victory. Within minutes we had written and posted a brief to the Web site. It was only a matter of seconds to reconfigure the front page and send out a breaking news e-mail. Other proprietary content management systems would not have allowed us to report with the ease and speed at which we did.
Larger news organizations have advantages of money and larger staffs, but The Maine Campus had an advantage that allowed us to scoop them on one of the biggest stories of the year: WordPress.