Covering the debates

When we began thinking about how we wanted to cover the presidential debates live, we knew we needed more than just a livestream. No one just watches a live event anymore— they want real-time analysis from experts, as well as a way to voice their opinions and see the opinions of other viewers. So we built our Debate Dashboard to provide all of these services. 

We used a combination of elements to get the right mix: the livestream (of course), a live chat, an Urtak poll, and bingo.

Live chat 

We repurposed our new commenting platform, Livefyre, to host the chat. The platform also allows us to pull in tweets from our political commentators.  


We teamed up with the New York-bred Q&A application Urtak to ask our readers questions that pertained to the debate topics in real-time, which collects responses in yes/no/don’t care answers and displays them in a stream of pie charts. Through the 56 questions about policy and the candidates—the majority of which were submitted directly by readers within the app—we got nearly 13,000 responses.


This was a last minute addition that we put together a couple hours before the debate but proved to be super popular. Our politics team contributed keywords for the cards, which then get shuffled and delt out to readers watching the debate live.

Under the hood: We used Miso’s Dataset to import the list of keywords from a Google Spreadsheet so we could work on the code while they were populating the app with terms. It’s a workflow that we’ve come to use for most of our projects. Expect a post about it soon…

-Brian, Michael & Sam

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Notes and images from an ever-growing digital newsroom.

Newsweek & The Daily Beast

Brian Ries & Sam Schlinkert

Michael Keller, Andrew Sprouse, Lynn Maharas, & Clarisa Diaz

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