Ask any political reporter about this election year, and they’ll say something to the effect of, “I haven’t seen an election like this before.” Brian Carovillano, vice president of U.S. news for the Associated Press, would agree.
With their series, “Divided America,” AP reporters are going deeper into communities to find out why people are voting the way they are, and what factors have created an election cycle like no other.
“Every news organization—and we’re no exception—devotes a lot of resources to following the candidates around and reports on what they say…, but what happens after the New Hampshire and Iowa caucuses?” Carovillano said. “What if you go back and talk to people in those communities? What are you going to learn about why they voted the way they voted and how is that going to impact the way things will break in November?”
The series launched in early June and, at the time of this report, it has already published eight stories, featuring text stories, video, interactives and data visualizations focused on the social and economic divides facing America today. Carovillano said they will probably publish around two dozen stories before the election in November.
The series started with a dedicated group of reporters, but as it grows, any AP reporter with an idea from the communities they cover can contribute.
“In a sense, the team is the entire AP. Everyone in the field; we’ve even got some good ideas from editors of member newspapers and broadcasters,” Carovillano said. “We’ve been casting a really wide net for ideas, trying to make use of all the resources of the AP and its membership to tell these stories.”
The “Divided America” stories are available to AP member newspapers and can also be a tool for newspapers to turn a national story into a local one.
“A lot of these stories are data driven, especially the one about the economy. So we’ll publish a story, we’ll share the data with member papers and broadcasters and online sites, so if they want to they can basically do a local version of that,” Carovillano said.
While the series name, “Divided America,” might fade out after the election is over, Carovillano said they will continue reporting on the stories they’ve uncovered throughout the series. Current pieces include millennial voters, Hispanic voters, and how the recent shootings by police officers have exacerbated divides within the country among others.
To read the stories featured in “Divided America,” visit interactives.ap.org/interactives/2016/divided-america/.