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Midterm Election Musings from Chicago Reflect Engagment, Lack of Interest

This is a report about a new way of looking at political videos, an educational experiment, as well as a review of voter sentiment during the recent midterm elections.

Columbia College Chicago students from Online Journalism, taught by Barbara Iverson, went  on a quest to do something few have ever done before. They had to explore voter sentiment before and during the recent midterm election using video interviews and a new video site, Stroome.com. Furthermore, they had to use a novel approach with the video that allowed them to use each others clips to create “remixes.” This is a technique that is familiar in music, but hasn’t been used to create narrative work, especially in reporting.

Danejia asks about voting.
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Asking “why they vote?”

The website Stroome.com is aiming to create a place where a new kind of video narrative form can emerge. Stroome lets you upload video clips and then create a video story or narrative. The novel twist with Stroome is that it’s meant to be collaborative, so the clips you upload can be shared and “remixed” by other users. This is new idea to most of us, because in the world of broadcast, video has always been packaged and viewed. The idea that you could take video “quotes” in the form of clips that other people have recorded and uploaded and weave them into your own work, and end up making a statement of your own is only possible when video gets interactive — as it can on the Internet.
Voter education project and interviews before the election:

Setting the students loose to face a political landscape where pundits and pollsters agreed that if young people came out to vote in the midterm elections in November 2010, in the same numbers they had for the general election, that Democrats would win big. However, emotional momentum was in favor of the Tea Party candidates and running high against incumbents. This played out in Illinois in the race for the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama and in several congressional races including the Bean – Walsh race, which hasn’t been settled, as Congress gets ready to go into session this week.

Student reporters Josh Krol, Riley McCord, Lisa Wardle, Jackson Thomas, Danejia Jones, Leticia Threadgill, Amanda Witt and Sierra Candia set out to ask a group of voters, including students and some older voters, whether they planned to vote and what they were thinking about the midterm elections. The results are interesting, though — depending on your view — frustrating or illuminating. Their work remixes interviews with other images and material they pulled together to experiment with this novel method of storytelling and reporting. Stroome.com was in its beta version, and the students were working with their “backpack journalist” cameras, so some of it lacks polish, but it hints at how voters themselves will be able to “talk back” to candidates and the anonymous campaign ads that filled the airwaves in the 2010 midterm elections. You can visit Stroome.com and remix or experiment with their work, too. Here is their work.

What was election day like? What does it mean to vote?

Here is Amanda’s view of why people do or don’t vote.
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Posted by on November 16, 2010. Filed under Community, Politics is Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.