Every election night, we track election results as they trickle in from
each precinct, but in a small newsroom, actually delivering that data to
readers in a timely way can be daunting. By the time we take the latest
information from our internal spreadsheets, manually type it into our
content management system and go through all the steps involved in
publication, the totals are already out of date. Using Google Docs for
our internal spreadsheet and feeding the data straight into our website
allowed us to bypass several steps and get the latest results to our
readers almost as soon as we had them.
2. What were the steps in creating it?
I've posted a detailed description of the process here. The short version is:
First, get your spreadsheet set up. Then create a section of the
document where the data is displayed exactly the way you want it to be
published online, using the appropriate formulas to make your
calculations for you. Create a new gadget based on your data, then grab
the embed code and paste it into your website.
3. How did you introduce or promote it to your audience?
This was a very spur-of-the-moment project, so the only real promotion
came in the form of Facebook and Twitter posts telling people we were
trying something new. And, of course, everyone who visited our homepage
that afternoon or evening saw that there was something unusual in the
4. Any results thus far?
I don't think we received any reader comments on it. But it worked as
planned, and it certainly was nice to be able to duplicate the kind of
minute-to-minute tallying and tracking that we've all been watching TV
stations with much bigger budgets do for years.
5. What would you recommend to other media wanting to do a similar project?
Make sure readers know that they will have to manually refresh the whole
page in order to update the data. Also, expect to spend some time
tinkering with the spreadsheet layout and the gadget configuration in
order to make the display look the way you want it to.