Editor’s note: A multilingual twist to Philly elections coverage: WHYY News, Billy Penn publish in Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish

The new approach to elections coverage aims to reach new audiences.

Check out WHYY News stories in Chinese | Arabic | Spanish

Read the Billy Penn Procrastinator’s Guide in Chinese | Arabic | Spanish

WHYY News and Billy Penn are working to reach new audiences across Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey. Last fall, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism announced the Every Voice, Every Vote Project, a collaborative news and information initiative for news organizations and community organizations alike to collaborate on a major civic dialogue project, which sought to inform voters on Philadelphia’s mayoral election. I jumped at the chance to work with the WHYY News editing team to create an enterprising elections coverage proposal that would take our audience work to the next level as well as serve the primary purpose of covering the 2023 City Council and mayoral elections.

The citizens of Philadelphia will elect the 100th mayor of the city on November 7. The Lenfest’s Every Voice, Every Vote Project brought together more than 50 newsrooms and cultural institutions to elevate awareness around the election, voting, and the issues of importance to Philadelphians.

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Considering WHYY News has an ambitious community and engagement team in the news department that is already linked to numerous News and Information Community Exchange (N.I.C.E.) partners contributing to rich news sourcing efforts, it was a no-brainer to devise a strategy to engage them to expand our intentional audience work.

This rich content project led to a twist in our newsroom’s audience work. With just a week out from the election, WHYY News and Billy Penn published some of our meaningful elections content, such as Billy Penn’s Procrastinator’s Guide and a story about what Philly’s art leaders want to see in the next mayor, in Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. These languages were chosen based on the relationships we’ve grown with our N.I.C.E. program, which is funded by the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. New Mainstream Press is among the contributors we worked with.

Similar to the spirit of the EVEV Project, our goal was to reach new audiences. It was easy to conclude there was no better avenue to do so than to translate our award-winning journalism into multiple languages and distribute the content via ads on social media to audiences interested in the selected languages and cultures. Other aspects of our EVEV project included: issues reporting on public safety, as well as the arts and business communities’ perspectives on city services; Airtable implementation; a business breakfast with city leaders to discuss pressing topics to elevate to the next mayor; and the Meet Your Mayor Quiz, which is one epic multimedia project by Billy Penn.

Our multilingual publishing as an audience innovation test is something we may duplicate as multilingual translation efforts align with future news projects.

Yours in Journalism,

Sarah Glover

WHYY Vice President of News and Civic Dialogue

This story is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. Learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters here.

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