Welcome to the 62nd episode of the Mediatwits podcast, with Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali as co-hosts. This week is a special edition of the podcast, with a focus on the coming election and the role of digital and social media leading up to it. But just as the political campaigns had to adjust to Hurricane Sandy, we also couldn’t ignore the biggest story of the week. Rafat had to live in a hotel for a couple days and his workmates in New York are still without power.

We spoke to WNYC’s Caitlin Thompson and Washington Post’s Cory Haik about how those sites covered Sandy in real-time, and the lessons they learned that will help them on Election Day.

We also went deep into politics, bringing on Pew Internet’s Aaron Smith to give us some stats on social media use this election cycle, and Sunlight Labs’ Tom Lee to tell us about their efforts at bringing transparency to the massive amounts of money being injected into the campaigns. How will that change the way we get news on Election Day? Will it be another dual-screen or multi-screen experience for political junkies?


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Guest Bios

Cory Haik

Cory Haik is the executive producer of digital news at the Washington Post. Cory has spent the last decade managing the disruption of web publishing – which she likes. From producing content to managing people and products, from reporting to editing — she’s done it all.

Caitlin Thompson is WNYC’s political editor, running its interactive politics website It’s A Free Country. Caitlin covered the 2006 and 2008 elections for the washingtonpost.com, and TIME.com.

Aaron Smith is senior research specialist with Pew Internet, where his primary areas of research include the role of the internet in the political process, technology in civic life and online engagement with government. He has also authored research on mobile internet usage, the role of the internet in family life and demographic trends in technology adoption.

Tom Lee is the director of Sunlight Labs, the division of Sunlight charged with building technology to make government data more useful to the public. Tom has worked on government transparency in a variety of ways, from coding projects like Elena’s Inbox to testifying on automated document declassification at the National Archives to consulting with the legislature on federal data quality issues.

Our show is now on Stitcher! Listen to us on your iPhone, Android Phone, Kindle Fire and other devices with Stitcher. Find Stitcher in your app store or at stitcher.com.

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio’s Music Alley.

Caitlin Thompson

Highlights from the Show


1:00: Rafat deals with aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in NYC

3:50: Importance of charging cell phones to stay connected

5:20: Rundown for the podcast

Covering Hurricane Sandy

6:40: Special guests Cory Haik and Caitlin Thompson

8:10: Haik: Washington Post prepared for live coverage with all the political events recently

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Aaron Smith

10:30: Post launched new mobile site ahead of political conventions

13:20: Thompson: Radio people used to misinformation passed around, vetting it on the fly

15:00: WNYC helping answer questions about transit, gas availability in New York

Role of social, digital in election

16:30: Special guests Tom Lee and Aaron Smith

18:20: Smith: 2 out of 5 Americans have taken political action on social media this cycle

20:30: Why are political ads still on TV and not moving as much online as usage?

Tom Lee

23:10: Lee: Rise of “dark money” in campaigns, so it’s difficult sometimes to track

26:10: Haik: Washington Post will be heavy on live, video, social, mobile on Election Day

28:30: Thompson: We created network of swing state radio stations to share stories, live-tweet and chat on-air

31:30: Lee: Difficult to standardize polling place data, but many are trying

33:10: Haik: Our decision desk at the Post will make final call as rumors fly on results, exit polls

More Reading

Best Online Resources, Videos, Photos from Hurricane Sandy Coverage– from-hurricane-sandy-coverage-304.html at PBS MediaShift

How to Help: Hurricane Sandy Recovery at WNYC

Sandy’s Devastating Blow photo gallery at Washingtonpost.com

WNYC’s Transit Tracker map


The Most Innovative Digital Coverage of Superstorm Sandy at Idea Lab

Special Series: Election 2012 at PBS MediaShift

Elections: Fact-Checking the NPR Fact-Checkers at NPR

WaPo Readers Digital Election Day Coverage at NetNewsCheck

Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth and Ad Hawk app

Sunlight Labs projects


Be sure to vote in our weekly poll, this time about how you’ll be getting election results:

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian and fiancee Renee. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+