Students Help Generate Interactive Election Map for Media

Christie won by a landslide, but Montclair State students helped plot the closer senate and assembly races.

It was a late night on November 5 in Schmitt Hall — despite the fact that the gubernatorial race was called for Chris Christie just past 8 p.m.

Students from Director of NJ Commons Debbie Galant's local media class and English Professor Diane Herbst's public affairs reporting class in Montclair State University's School of Communication and Media were busy culling numbers from 21 county websites across the state to generate an interactive results map for the 120 senate and assembly races in New Jersey. The spreadsheet and map, created by Colleen O'Dea, was posted on the NJ Spotlight website and shared with media throughout the state.

In some cases, counties were slow to release data, prompting students to get on the phone and call clerks offices to expedite the process. "It was great experience for the students to see their work in real time on local media and to get their hands dirty mining and reading data," said Galant. Students were fueled by pizza and enjoyed a visit from School of Communication and Media Director Merrill Brown. Andrew Gaudagnino, NJ News Commons intern and senior student in the Communication and Media Arts program created a Storify of the election and was interviewed on air by WMSC staff.