Earlier this week, Americans chose Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, concluding an 18-month long election cycle in which news organisations have played an important role in shaping the political discourse through their reporting and ensuring voters had access to the relevant fact and figures before casting their ballots.

Live-updating blogs and interactive maps, Facebook Live, automated reporting, bots and chat apps were all part of news outlets' strategy for covering the results and voter issues on Election Day.

NPR took this opportunity to experiment with a slightly different take on Facebook Live – the organisation livestreamed two artists at its headquarters in Washington for more than six hours, who installed a mural of the US electoral map and updated it by painting each state red or blue as results rolled in.

The stream acted as a backdrop for NPR's other analysis and commentary on Facebook Live and its more traditional reporting provided through a live blog on the website, the NPR One app, radio broadcasts and social media platforms.

"We wanted to do something a little bit slower, so that viewers could tune in whenever was good for them and know what was going on, something that still brought the news, but was kind of longer term," Amita Kelly, digital editor and producer at NPR, told Journalism.co.uk in a recent podcast.

"We've been calling it our 'slow TV', and the idea was to give people something interesting to watch that they didn't necessarily have to watch the entire several hours of the night, but they could come in and still learn what was going on."

Focusing on voters and putting local issues into national context

NPR organised its newsroom workflow differently to cover the vote, explained deputy political editor Arnie Seipel. Multiple teams of reporters in Washington and across the country worked to cover the different aspects of the election, such as voting irregularities, the senate races, the exit polls and voters' reactions in the field.

"In the past, we used to send reporters and producers out to maybe 15-20 different sites to cover any possible senate races across the country there might be some interest in," Seipel said.

"For candidate speeches and things like that, we have any number of ways for broadcasting it and getting reactions, but if we're going to send our reporting power out, we found that our stronger preference is for people in the field to really be with voters.

"So in some ways we've refocused inside the newsroom to attack the different political elements of the story, and then outside the newsroom, we're very much taking an approach of looking at voters across the country in a much more focused way."

NPR also collaborated with journalists and producers from its hundreds of member stations across the US, who brought in local reports from different communities that were then given the national-level pulse by a core team of NPR Politics correspondents in Washington.

Kelly said one of NPR's aims for the night was to add context to local news and issues that could be one-offs, such as a long line at a voting centre, and "put the national context" around these stories.

Putting emotion into automated storytelling

At The Washington Post, automation was a big part of the election coverage. After using it to report on the Olympic Games in the summer, the outlet rolled out its in-house system Heliograf to produce short stories and updates on nearly 500 races across the country, including House, Senate and gubernatorial.

Using artificial intelligence, Heliograf was able to craft written updates almost instantly, based on data and results from the Associated Press, which were automatically included in The Post's live blog on the website.

Joey Marburger, director of product at The Washington Post, told Journalism.co.uk that using Heliograf, the outlet was able to cover "a lot of smaller representative races that we probably wouldn't write about normally".

The system also allowed reporters and editors to build on automated updates with additional reporting, turning them into more significant stories if there was a need.

The Post also developed a Facebook Messenger bot called Feels to capture people's feelings and reactions to the election for the three weeks prior to the day of the vote.

Each day, Feels would give its users a snapshot of the latest election news, before asking them to express their feelings by choosing one of the five emojis available.

It would then provide them with a selection of results and quotes from those who had already replied, compiled by a Post staffer who was moderating the bot.

On 9 November, Feels asked people how they felt about the results of the vote, and Marburger said The Post plans to aggregate all the responses into a graphic to "show the bigger picture around the story".

"The election is obviously important and on lots of people's minds, but as soon as we injected that emotional aspect, people really wanted to share it.

"Of everyone who's interacted with it ever, 85 per cent use it every day or almost every day.

"So now we feel like we've figured out the right recipe for bots for news and we plan to elaborate on that," Marburger said.

The Post, which was one of several paywalled outlets to offer readers free access to its content on 8 November, also featured video reports on its website and live on Facebook, where readers had access to more than five hours' worth of analysis and commentary on results as they came in.

The outlet also showed a livestream of two 3D printers simultaneously creating two models of the White House in blue and red respectively, depending on which candidate was in the lead.

Experimenting with platforms and technology

Both NPR and The Post featured interactive maps of the results on their websites, alongside many other organisations such as The Wall Street Journal, BBC, the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Aside from its digital and social media coverage and rolling updates on TV, CNN used chat apps to engage younger audiences with its election reporting, providing updates with GIFs and custom stickers on Kik and carrying a live chat on the morning of the election to answer young people's questions such as "what happens if there's a tie".

The broadcaster also projected the election results in real-time on the Empire State Building in New York, through a partnership with Instagram and CA Technologies.

Elsewhere, The Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab, which has been experimenting with a variety of push notifications formats prior to the election, sent real-time push alerts to readers' lock screens in the Guardian Android and iOS apps.

NBC News invited its audience to follow the election results in Virtual Democracy Plaza, a virtual reality project that began at the end of September and gave viewers access to debate watch parties, Q&As with political experts and political comedy shows.

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