WDET decided back at the beginning of this year to try to do something a bit different with our reporting this year as we started to think about our election coverage for 2018. We knew that we’d be covering the candidates and the issues in the months leading up to the August primary election and the November general election. That’s what we do.
But we wanted to find a way to get more residents involved in the process – to see what really mattered most to them.
So we came up with this idea we started calling “Policy Meets The People.”
The idea was to follow key issues that state officials have been working on – and tell voters how the legislation, laws and policies developed in Lansing and elsewhere around the state – affect Michigan residents. No, how those issues REALLY affect Michigan residents – not how they were intended to affect the 10 million people living in the state.
We began holding a series of newsroom meetings in January to try to sketch out the shape of this project. We came at it with a rough idea, but needed to find a way to bring it all together. And again, we wanted to do it in a way that got real, substantial input from Metro Detroiters.
The news team brainstormed a list of roughly 20 issues we thought were important to state residents. Additional meetings were then held to whittle that down to a stronger list of 10. We then designed a survey to ask Metro Detroiters what their most important issues were. We asked questions such as:
Which of these issues are you passionate about?
Which of these issues will sway your vote?
What questions do you talk about at your dinner table?
The survey was made available to residents in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Monroe, Lenawee, and St. Clair counties. We distributed it through social media, on WDET’s website and in person at select community meetings.
We received more than 300 responses.
During the data analysis, it became very clear that four issues were paramount in the minds of respondents. Those issues are: education, transportation/infrastructure, water quality, and gerrymandering.
We held additional meetings to determine the scope and form of the reporting. We realized it would be important to hold a live discussion about each of the four issues with community members in attendance.
Week of April 23 – Education
Week of May 21 – Transportation/Infrastructure
Week of June 11 – Water Quality
Week of June 25 – Gerrymandering
Although, we set up a broadcast schedule for the series in the spring months, that doesn’t mean that will be the entirety of our coverage on these subjects. We will continue to report on these key issues and others through the summer and into the fall.
We will also continue to find opportunities to engage Metro Detroiters and involve them in this reporting project.
We hope you find it useful.
If you’d like to reach out to us about the project, you can reach us on Twitter @wdet, on Facebook, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.