SCM Students Bring the 'Heat' to Map Senate Election Results

Debbie Galant and Samantha Hahn

Students in TVDM 255-4 "All News is Local: Covering New Jersey" learn how to cover election results. Oct. 16, 2013.

Students in the School of Communication and Media's Local News class got some experience in data journalism Wednesday night when their classroom turned into an election headquarters for the special Senate election.

Using an application created by Broadstreet Ads, which runs a hyperlocal advertising network in New Jersey and is a partner of NJ News Commons at Montclair State University, students entered vote results from the state's 21 counties and created a "heat map," giving an instant view of the red and blue areas of the state.

They also provided news updates throughout the night to DJs Brett Verbist and Nakia Swinton of 90.3 WMSC, the student radio station. 

In two cases, the student data differed from Associated Press data.

"The interesting thing is that the students were really doing what the AP does when it creates the datasets that everybody buys: getting the data directly from county clerk websites," wrote instructor Debbie Galant, who is also Director of the NJ News Commons at Montclair State. "Those are not at all uniform across New Jersey. They learned how to find the results coming in and read them, and they saw how powerful a mapping tool can be."