McClatchy unveils ambitious editorial initiatives for midterm election coverage

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McClatchy announced the launch of new editorial initiatives this month, aimed at better connecting McClatchy readers with important coverage of politics and policy decisions at stake in the 2018 midterm elections. The projects – "The Influencer Series," "Ground  Game" and "Beto" – will provide sophisticated coverage of midterm election races important to both local voters served by McClatchy news brands and  political obsessives nationwide.

The groundbreaking, multi-platform coverage is the result of a collaborative effort across McClatchy's local newsrooms, spearheaded by Kristin Roberts, executive editor of McClatchy DC and regional editor of McClatchy's East Region. It also involves a new  partnership with OZY  Media, an online digital magazine covering news, politics, culture, sports and more.

"We've launched these important editorial initiatives to enhance our reporting before the critical midterm elections," said Roberts. "With local newsrooms across 14 states bolstered by our strong Washington, DC bureau, McClatchy is the single best-placed news organization to tell readers, viewers and listeners what voters on the ground are thinking, what policy positions matter to them, and how candidates are responding – or failing to respond – to both. Unlike  other newsrooms with a Washington- or New York-driven approach, ours will be  focused on the communities where McClatchy is strong on the ground."

"The Influencer Series"
"The Influencer  Series" is an unparalleled multi-state project in four states – California,  Florida, Missouri and North Carolina – aimed at sparking an ongoing solutions-focused conversation in communities where McClatchy's leading local news brands are based. The Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer are leading the project in their respective states.  These newsrooms have recruited more than 200 influential leaders with wide-ranging backgrounds who agreed to participate in surveys through the election cycle on the policy issues and sentiments most important to their communities.  Influencers are leaders across the community in education, public service, faith, business, law, sports and entertainment.

McClatchy newsrooms producing "The Influencers Series" will bring readers into the conversation in new ways. With Hearken's public-powered journalism model, strategy and technology, newsrooms will open up the editorial process so readers can provide input on surveys, ask questions and make suggestions, and journalists will be able to listen and respond, strengthening the bond between the community and the newsroom. This interactive component among readers and newsrooms will be called, "Your Voice."

"The Influencer  Series" surveys will focus on policy issues important to voters and critical to the future of their states. McClatchy newsrooms will choose these issue areas through feedback from both the influencers and readers. For instance, survey  topics in California might be on marijuana and immigration in a given month, while in Florida, surveys might cover climate change and gun control. The first articles based on the surveys will be published on June 18. The stories will publish twice monthly and then weekly after Labor Day, leading up to Election Day in November. "The Influencer Series" will include exclusive news and  opinion content generated by the surveys.

Following the midterm election, McClatchy will tap into the convening power of its local news brands to co-host "The Influencer Summits," which will serve as culminating events to gather influencers together for the first time for one purpose: to discuss needed solutions to state problems.

"Ground Game"
McClatchy has  partnered with OZY Media, to develop a series focused on 12 critical House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns of 2018. "Ground Game" will feature deeply reported, magazine-style coverage of key races. The content will run on both companies' sites and apps, and in a new e-newsletter delivered to millions of readers nationwide.  McClatchy reporters Alex Roarty and Katie Glueck, along with OZY Politics Editor Daniel Malloy, will help lead the coverage and will co-host monthly episodes of McClatchy's politics podcast, "Beyond the Bubble" leading up to November's election to share their insights.

McClatchy will cover six House districts that serve as archetypes for the most competitive midterm election battles, including a story on the heated race in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, outside of Charlotte. Other districts include California's 10th Congressional District (Modesto area) and Florida's 26th Congressional District (includes Florida Keys and portions of Dade  County).

"Who Decides?" – a data project that tracks the fundraising efforts for each candidate in the six bellwether districts covered by the "Ground Game" series – will launch mid-July. 

OZY Media will report on three Senate races and three gubernatorial races that tell a larger story about the mood and sentiment of the country as Election Day approaches.  These include the races for governors of Georgia, Maryland and Michigan and the Senate contests in Arizona, Missouri and Mississippi.

"We are excited to bring our brands and reporting power together to provide fresh, flavorful, ahead-of-the-curve storytelling on the people and issues that will decide these historic elections," said Carlos Watson, co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of OZY Media.

Serial Documentary: "Beto"
McClatchy Studios  is producing a real time, serial documentary on the Texas Senate campaign of Beto O'Rourke to appear weekly on Facebook Watch and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram websites. The Democratic  candidate has agreed to give McClatchy Studios video journalists exclusive behind-the-scenes access in his battle against incumbent Ted Cruz; the Cruz campaign has chosen not to participate. The series will launch in late summer.

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