'I-4 Votes' Aims to Highlight Issues Important To Central Florida Residents

Floridians are going to the polls on March 17 for the state’s presidential primary. This election cycle, WUSF is focusing on the issues rather than the political horse race.

To do that, WUSF has teamed up with reporters at NPR member station WMFE in Orlando for I-4 Votes, a collaboration covering the election issues that matter to those living along the I-4 corridor.

Reporters spent time in communities and conducted an informal survey to find out what voters cared about.

This week on Florida Matters, host Bradley George talks with WUSF news director Mary Shedden, WUSF political reporter Steve Newborn and WMFE reporter Abe Aboraya about what they learned in the process.

“We created a survey online, went out and talked to people about the survey and over 800 people filled out and completed the surveys,” Shedden said. She said those responses are guiding election coverage at WUSF and WMFE.

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Part of the reason for doing I-4 Votes is correcting news media’s wrongs from the 2016 election cycle, Shedden said.

“The media heard that the way we covered the race was not helpful,” she said. “About a year ago, we (public media stations in Florida) decided to start talking about covering the race differently and we teamed up…to cover one of the most important parts of the country when it comes to politics.”

The collaboration is meant to engage communities in the I-4 corridor.

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“You get a much better feel of the pulse of the community by just getting out and talking to people and that’s what we tried to do here,” said Steve Newborn.

“Only 20 percent of Americans have ever been interviewed or met a journalist,” Shedden said. “We are taking our reporting and going into the community, instead of just covering the events. That’s at the heart of all our reporting.”