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On-air and online: GMA expands Election 2013 coverage

May 9, 2013 6:13pm

In the 2010 Elections, GMA Network was a leader in media coverage—both on television and on the web. Harnessing the power of social media, GMA’s Department of Multimedia Journalism gathered and delivered breaking news in real time through social networks Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, YouScoop tapped into the network of citizen journalists for both online and on-air dissemination of the news.

This year, GMA will be taking the game to the next level with two new web applications and a series of online programs for the 2013 elections.

The next level

GMA’s Vice President for Multimedia Journalism Howie Severino says the company’s background in radio and TV give the media giant an advantage—even in an increasingly online world.

“[It’s about] scale. We have a large news organization with a lot of resources and with a big audience,” says Severino. “The ‘big-ness’ of GMA News’ election coverage is the combination of different platforms and media—from the very traditional radio to the newest forms [online]. We have a very powerful means of spreading, gathering and verifying information.”

Television, he says gives breadth. Radio gives listeners “the visceral experience of hearing on-the-ground witnesses, live.” Meanwhile, the internet provides speed, depth and global distribution in real time.

For example, GMA’s new Kandidato Buzz Index is a real-time visualization of which senatorial candidates are being talked about the most online. Readers will also be presented with the freshest and most relevant social content.

Meanwhile, the Voting Experience Poll lets Filipinos report on how their voting experience was and whether they encountered any problems. This becomes a database from which we may determine public sentiment towards the elections. From there, Filipinos may also share their experience on their social media accounts.

For these applications, GMA partnered with U.S.-based company Mass Relevance, which has previously worked with other broadcast companies to visualize social media content and data around live events.  Mass Relevance has powered similar visualizations for CNN’s coverage of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections.

The online form will also be used to actively engage Filipino voters with new content. “We are creating a range of platforms and channels for people to air their concerns and questions, campaign for their chosen candidates, or argue with people as in a debate,” says Severino.

In the E13 Google Hangout, anyone with an internet connection can watch a curated panel of experts discuss election-related issues from May 13 to 14. Viewers may tweet the panel their questions using the hashtag #e13hangout.

“The business of journalism is becoming more and more multi-platform. It’s not enough to be present on-air; you need to be present everywhere,” says Pia Faustino, multimedia manager at GMA Network. “More and more people are turning to the internet as a main source of info, and we need to be there to provide them with the info they need.”

Five Google hangouts will be hosted on Election Day, for topics such as Election Day problem resolution, overseas absentee voting, and controversial candidates. There will also be a hangout held after the closing of the polls, where candidates will gather to speak on an open platform.

A post-elections hangout will be conducted on May 14 to discuss citizen journalism highlights and wrap up election topics.

‘Filipinos are concerned about their country’

Faustino believes that GMA company slogan “‘Serbisyong Totoo” means giving audiences complete coverage of the elections on all platforms.

GMA’s Action Center has also organized a Social Media Helpdesk which is devoted to responding to voter concerns. This Helpdesk will also log and verify election-related incident reports such as crime, PCOS machine malfunctions and the like.

Using Twitter to send breaking news and photos is now a protocol for all GMA reporters and producers. The latest feed may be viewed via Twitter and Facebook. Citizen journalists may also submit first-hand accounts of incidents, no matter where they are in the Philippines, through the YouScoop microsite, the YouScoop mobile apps for iOS and Android, or through Twitter and Facebook.

“These days, everyone who has a cell phone has the power to tell a story. Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account can post something that goes viral,” explains Faustino. “Filipinos are concerned about their country. If they see something important, we’re giving them the power to make it known to even more people.”

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