As the conventions near and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney begins to hit the trail with his just-announced VP pick, Yahoo News is launching a series of programs designed to expand their election coverage - most notably into the social realm.
Today, the company announced #HashOut, what they call the "first talk show conducted over social media." #HashOut will launch next week and bring together panelists from all sides of the political debate, as well as Twitter-using politicos.
"This new Yahoo! News editorial driven social engagement program, launching next week, aims to ignite a daily debate about politics, current news, and buzzing topics between the Yahoo! audience and a panel of political influencers, industry thought leaders, Yahoo! experts, and journalists," says Yahoo. "Each weekday, the Yahoo! News Twitter (@YahooNews) feed will pose a question to all of its followers. Three curated answers will be published the following day on the Yahoo! #HashOut page and the Yahoo! community will vote on the answer they think is best."
#HashOut will feature a few dozen panelists from all over the map, including Grover Norquist, Maria Shriver, Buzzfeed's Ben Smith, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal, LOST producer Damon Lindelof, MSNBC's Chris Hayes, comedian Rob Delaney, and DNC vice chairwoman Donna Brazile.
Although #HashOut is definitely the big-ticket announcement from Yahoo's election coverage ramp-up, they also announced six new original show covering the conventions; “#HashOut: On Location,” “Just Explain It: Political Edition," “Just Explain It: Historical Moments,” "Live Convention Coverage," “Newsmakers Live,” and “Who Knew?: Convention Edition.”
Finally, Yahoo News is also launching a new Election Control Room, which they say will provide a personalized content experience like live video, election maps, live results, a live blogging.
“Our ambitious election program has informed and engaged audiences about the issues that matter,” said Robertson Barrett, Vice President of News & Finance at Yahoo!. “As we continue that mission, we’re also thrilled to host our first-ever event at this year’s national political conventions, deliver even more premium content, and provide our audience with the most exciting, comprehensive, and immersive election night experience online.”
Yahoo claims that nearly 90% of online voting age adults come to their site every month. This new election initiative is definitely a step in the right direction for social coverage, and they hope it will make them a leading destination from here until November 6th.