How many ‘civic-minded’ residents do you really have?

If journalism is going to evolve to a savvier appreciation for ‘impact,’ its makers need to have a clearer idea of their target audience.

Like you would for any business, you need to know how big your market is, and you need to understand how hard (and necessary) it is to create that audience by acquiring new users — in this case, civic-minded residents.

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Voting information in Philadelphia

Major contentious midterm elections take place the nation over today.

Despite the enthusiasm, I’m the reason why getting 60 percent of 170 million registered U.S. voters out there would be a triumph.

I’m fairly politically aware — even my interests are more in local policy than national — and have been involved in government and campaigning in the past. But, like most Americans, I have an excuse.

I spend most of the time leading up to an election pondering the journalism around it, listening and debating both sides — in short, seeing the election through my own prism (in my case, that means something of a balanced journalist).

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Committee of Seventy: Highlights of November 2009 Philadelphia election

seventy

Every Election Day since November 2004, with an occasional exception, I’ve worked with the Committee of Seventy, a more than century-old political oversight nonprofit in Philadelphia.

I always come away with stories.

As I did in last April’s primary, below, I’ll share some of the best from last Tuesday’s election, a relatively low-profile affair, including just a couple citywide offices and a dozen state and municipal judicial positions.

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Congratulations, President Obama

It will be an event I will tell my children about. John McCain wasn’t running as John McCain.

Unfairly, unjustly untruly or not, it seemed the media – particularly in Europe, from my experience – wanted Barack Obama in the office.

He has been anointed as part of a great achievement of American freedom. As a supporter of the U.S. president, I hope he can do it. But he has to exceed the level of excitement around him that prompted one supporter to tell a CNN TV camera: “you hear about people seeing Ghandi and Martin Luther King…”

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Rendell conference call on Obama campaign

Senator Barack Obama (R) (D-Il) is greeted by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell before speaking during a Democratic Unity Rally at Temple University's McGonigle Hall October 21, 2006 in Philadelphia. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

The Barack Obama presidential campaign’s focus on Pennsylvania is “unprecedented” Gov. Ed Rendell said in a news conference call I listened in on during this my first day with the Allentown Morning Call for my post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association.

Rendell was a noted booster for Obama’s primary opponent Hillary Clinton, but long maintained he would support whoever was the Democratic candidate. Rendell said “90 percent” of Clinton supporters are with Obama and getting “more excited” for Obama everyday.

“Pennsylvania is generally and typically a battleground state. Democrats have done well but absolutely can’t take it for granted,” said Steve Hildebrand, the national deputy Obama campaign manager. Aside from Florida, he added, Pennsylvania has the largest number of electoral votes that the campaigns are considering real battlegrounds.

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The April 22 Pennsylvania primary in Philadelphia

Oh, today is the much hyped Pennsylvania primary.

If you’re registered in Philadelphia and need to know where you’re voting, using the Committee of Seventy’s Citizen Access Center. Oh, and if you’re an Independent or Republican and feeling bummed out ’cause everyone is talking Obama/Hillary, fear not, in Philadelphia, there are also two ballot questions that mean a whole lot to some people. Want a real explanation of what to do?

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Barack Obama: from untouchable deity to struggling politician

I’ll say it.

I read a really on-point, interesting column in, seriously, the New York Times. ..I have joined semi-literate whites everywhere.

David Brooks took on Sen. Barack Obama, how the man had been raised on high as the messiah of U.S. politics and is now struggling with those unfair expectations.

See, Republicans are more known for quick primaries and getting behind a unified candidate, as has played out with Sen. John McCain. Now, McCain is sitting back, raising money and preparing for a general election, though some think it leaves the candidate less competitive.

On the other hand, big tent Democrat politics are more open to larger, longer and more competitive primaries. The thought is it sharpens the candidate, but, as Brooks wrote, this may be an exception.

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