Election Section Perfection?: News Sites’ Presidential Strategies Prize Blogs, Tweets, Maps

Tuesday’s US election may be the most watched yet – but the Transatlantic time difference makes it unlikely Wednesday morning’s UK papers will get to name a winner. How will news websites tackle the challenge? I asked editors from UK sites to share their online strategies for the political event of the year…

Telegraph.co.uk: Editor Marcus Warren: “We are doing what we do best, main content, but also linking to the rest, as Jeff Jarvis would put it.” That means liveblogging, data and video. US editor and veteran blogger Toby Harnden and others will be writing blogs including Eagle Eye and Three-Line Whip. For data, Warren said Telegraph.co.uk has partnered with New York Times (NYSE: NYT) to carry its live state-by-state map (“it’s a one-off but we talk with them all the time”), while polls come via a widget from independent site RealClearPolitics.com. Warren will have videographers on the ground in Chicago and will also take ITN On’s real-time web video. A Twitter stream was being set up during our call to push out blog posts. Warren said the website will do what newspapers can’t – give a result: “It’s very difficult to call (the result) until about 11pm EST, 4am GMT – online allows us to show what we’re capable of in a way that was inconceivable just four years ago.”

Independent.co.uk: The Indie has been using the web as much to listen as to speak to. It took LiveJournal up on its offer to be a community platform – reporters use LJ to ask US voters questions, with answers going back in to editorial coverage. Digital MD Bill Swanson said the site was keen to use blogs, comments and user-generated content: “With all the chat from Twitter and blogs, there’s an awful lot of content out there that people will be interested in monitoring as it comes to a head.”

Mirror.co.uk: Editor Steve Anglesey says he will have a live blog through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from US correspondent Anton Antonowicz, reaction Wednesday from Christopher Hitchens. Tuesday morning, Mirror.co.uk will run the result of its 51st State poll, in which Brits have voted via web, phone and SMS.

Sun Online: Online news editor Lachlan Cartwright: “We will be having rolling updates from our political editor George Pascoe Watson in New York and our US editor Emily Smith in Chicago throughout the night. In addition, we will have our interactive map showing projected results and the latest video from across America.” Dubbed The Real American Idol, Sun Online’s section also has a pretend vote for non-US voters and columnist Fergus Shanahan’s blog – which looks a lot like a column.

MSN UK: Executive producer Peter Bale said he was featuring MSN’s global poll of international voters (no prizes for guessing the winner), a forecast from its “wisdom-of-crowds” MSN Predictor tie-up with Populus, plus MSN’s own blogger, ex Times and Reuters correspondent Elaine Monaghan, offering “a British view” on her MSN Spaces journal.

BBC News: Well used to covering elections by now, Auntie will have a results service including a live state-by-state map, alongside a live stream of TV coverage, while North America editor Justin Webb will be blogging throughout. New this year – live text commentary during the vote and count, “and the website will reflect information and comment circulating among US bloggers”, though it’s not clear how.

Sky News: Sky’s most fun feature is a map that lets readers test out state-by-state victories on the overall election outcome. Sky, too, has teamed with RealClearPolitics.com, but to stream Sky News’ Unplugged show via the site. “Webchat“, executed via CoverItLive‘s liveblogging app, seems suitably gimmicky for a TV site; there are also message boards for viewers. Release.