Here’s a sure-fire sign that election season is in full swing: your mailbox, digital and otherwise, is likely overflowing with election attacks, smears and appeals to support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure.
Who is sending them? Are they who they claim to be?
What is their agenda? Why are they targeting you? Are the images presented in the advertisement manipulated?
To help explain who is targeting you and why, the Miami Herald has launched a new tool called the Election Ad Decoder.
As election season roared into the final stretch, we approached investigative reporters Sarah Blaskey and Nick Nehamas with an assignment: keep track of voter disinformation. They brainstormed about how to do this and, working with our audience growth producer Forrest Milburn and interaction developer Albert Franquiz, decided to create an interactive give-and-take with readers.
“Disinformation blends into the crowded media landscape around election time,” said Blaskey. “It’s not always easy to spot. Investigative journalism is about shedding light and separating truth from lies. That’s what the Decoder is all about.”
We’re collecting the campaign information in three ways, in both English and Spanish: through a form embedded in online stories published by the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald; via email at [email protected]; or through a Google voice number that can accept text and WhatsApp messages: 305-396-1481.
In addition, journalists are collecting any political ads they receive or view during their normal internet browsing and pulling sponsored content from the Facebook Ad Library that target Floridians.
You can search our growing database to research the emails and mailers you are receiving at home. And as the fusillade of voter appeals accelerates, we invite you to share them with us. We will look into these submissions and post what we discover online in searchable form.
The Election Ad Decoder is just one of several ways the Miami Herald aims to be your essential source for information on the elections.
Last week, we launched a comprehensive Voter Guide that gives users a customized sample ballot based on their address. The guide is a one-stop resource that includes candidate profiles, voting information and our Editorial Board candidate recommendations. It also includes questionnaires that we sent to dozens of candidates running in key races for Miami-Dade voters, which are available to our subscribers.
In our Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald newsrooms, more than a dozen reporters are closely following local, state and national races to ensure our readers have the fact-based information they need to make informed decisions. Our team is led by political writer David Smiley and editors Amy Driscoll and Dave Wilson.
Along with our ongoing campaign coverage, we are producing a series of stories that anticipate and answer any voter questions – from how to turn in your mail-in ballot if you’re worried about the postal service to how to correct your ballot signature.
The right to vote is foundational principle of our democracy. We’re working to provide you with the information you need so that you can be confident that your vote will be counted and that your decisions are based on accurate information from legitimate sources you know and trust.