With an expanded Communications department heavy on experience and digital capacity, FairVote enjoyed an impressive media presence in 2017 and increased our own media content at FairVote.org. Led by communications director (and senior fellow) David Daley and me as media relations director, the team garnered earned media in numerous national outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, Slate, Vox, ABC, CBS, CNN and others. Contributions by digital communications specialist Emily Risch and communications fellow Myeisha Boyd were also crucial to the team’s success.
Even though there was a great deal of national press, much of the team’s focus was on supporting various state efforts around the country which translated into our state allies honing their message and earning increased coverage. FairVote also appeared in several key regional papers this year, including the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News.
Perhaps the year’s most influential media hit was the July op-ed How to Make Congress Bipartisan, pegged to the introduction of the Fair Representation Act in the U.S. House. It was co-written by noted conservative thinker Reihan Salam (editor of National Review) and FairVote executive director Rob Richie, and published in the New York Times.
Richie joined our board chair Krist Novoselic on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” and the Fair Representation Act earned featured commentary by reform allies in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report and The Nation.
Daley’s work as a senior fellow for FairVote has led to serious and important journalism. He has become the respected and credible go-to journalist on redistricting and gerrymandering. This work, and his book, was regularly cited in Gill v Whitford briefs. Here are just some of the highlights:
The New Yorker asked Daley to cover oral arguments in Gill v Whitford at the Supreme Court. The Atlantic published his piece on the Democrats’ efforts to gerrymander Maryland. His work was published this summer in the American Conservative on the right and on Bill Moyers’ news site and Salon on the left. Daley’s op-eds since joining FairVote include the Washington Post, New York Daily News and the Boston Globe, as well as regional papers like the Tampa Bay Times, Tucson Star and many others.
This attention has also led to Daley being an in-demand speaker at key conferences. Since joining FairVote, some of his speaking opportunities included:
- Major keynotes before the State Innovation Exchange convention in Washington, an appearance with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the former governor’s Institute at the University of Southern California; several Common Cause events, a talk at the Tufts mathematics and gerrymandering conference and at the State of American Democracy Conference at Oberlin University.
- He appeared on CNN, as well as numerous National Public Radio programs and regularly on Sirius satellite radio.
- He also appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” another example of his ability to communicate complicated issues such as redistricting in a clever manner to a wide and diverse audience.
Online, FairVote saw solid gains in its social media audiences in 2017. On Twitter, there was a 29 percent increase in followers, as the page nears the 10,000 mark. Its Facebook page topped 11,000 followers, recording a 34 percent increase this year. Our website previewed a new blog, Voices and Choices, that will feature regular new content from FairVote staff, board and allies.
Additionally, the Comms team’s video output was elevated, as support videos for FairVote’s activist toolkit were produced in time for the momentous activist summit in early November. On December 14 -- the 50th anniversary of the law mandating single-winner congressional districts -- FairVote introduced a video that explains how this system of electing members to the U.S. House of Representatives is directly linked to many of the most serious problems in American democracy today. There will be much more of this in the coming year.
So as we see 2017 come to a close, we give our thanks and appreciation to our colleagues in the media and our FV team: Outreach, Policy, Legal, Research, Development, FV California and FV New Mexico.
We look forward to broaden the reach and depth of FairVote’s work as we bring electoral reforms -- like ranked choice voting -- that will help strengthen America’s democracy for everyone.