Work as an Elections Staff Writer

Ballotpedia is seeking a full-time Staff Writer to join our Elections Team. Ballotpedia’s Elections Team researches, curates, and neutrally presents the basic facts and data about tens of thousands of races and candidates in every two-year cycle, with primaries and local elections happening somewhere in every month of every year. This consists of extensive research, direct outreach to external sources, data entry and use of a database/spreadsheets, data analysis, writing and using documentation, and content creation. This team is also responsible for much of Ballotpedia’s federal and state court coverage. Applicants should know that the day-to-day work typically feels more like data entry than journalism.

To succeed at Ballotpedia, you must be self-aware and personally invested in constant improvement. You must have a passion for creating a delightful experience for Ballotpedia’s readers and donors, and you must strive to develop expertise in your subject and the inner workings of your project.

Responsibilities

As an Elections Staff Writer, you will be:

  • Contributing to the full election coverage lifecycle (election date research → writing election overview articles → covering candidate filing deadlines → election content build-up → adding election results on election night → updating with certified results → processing officeholder swearing-ins/outs)
  • Conducting systematic research to collect data related to officeholders, candidates, and elections; data points will include but are not limited to campaign website addresses, social media links, and upcoming election dates
  • Using and mastering complex tools such as templates, spreadsheets, and our database
  • Maintaining a quality focus while handling high-volume rote activities such as data entry
  • Using and generating complex procedure checklist documentation to perform key tasks
  • Following carefully laid out processes, systems, and procedures as assigned by editors and supervisors
  • Understanding which content requires standardization and which requires originality
  • Innovating to improve work processes and to enhance content quality
  • Generating content about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner
  • Writing promotional content for Ballotpedia’s newsletters and videos
  • Learning and mastering Ballotpedia’s taxonomy of bias, including preparing for and attending annual bias training
  • Learning from and applying feedback given by others, such as in Master Classes
  • Editing content from multiple perspectives to unearth new improvement opportunities
  • Proofreading content effectively, efficiently, and consistently
  • Fixing error assignments within 24 hours
  • Gaining subject matter expertise
  • Conducting research efficiently and seeking out the best possible sources
  • Interacting with co-workers, customers, and the media in a professional, helpful, and pleasant manner
  • Some Elections Team members also specialize in one of the following:
    • Recall elections
    • Court coverage, including judicial news monitoring, confirmations, and SCOTUS cases

What are the metrics for success for an Elections Staff Writer?

  • The team’s percentage of deadlines met
  • A low severe error rate as measured by the Quality team
  • Number of pages edited and number of database edits
  • Number of gaps identified and structural improvements proposed

Skills

What are the five most important characteristics for an Elections Staff Writer?

  • They enjoy organizing their own lives and the world around them. They maintain orderly habits and perceive external disorder as an opportunity to innovate and improve.
  • They learn quickly and adjust to changes easily. They thrive in a world of constant iteration and feed into the cycle instead of slowing it down.
  • They contribute to a positive and open team environment. They interact with others in a hungry, humble, and smart manner, communicating when they need help as well as helping others who are struggling.
  • They can look at our content from different points of view. They understand how customers with different political beliefs, needs, or priorities would perceive our content.
  • They are capable of detaching from their writing and applying a high degree of critical scrutiny to their work. They self-edit constantly and have personal standards of quality, attention to detail, and accuracy that are unshakable.

To succeed in this position, you must have the ability to find obscure data, organize it effectively, and record it accurately on a consistent basis. You must have a drive and desire for innovation and flexibility and have the ability to identify and solve problems proactively. Adapting to changing tasks and tools is key. You must be comfortable with data entry, rote work, work tracking, and the use of a database and spreadsheets. You must be able to write about complex topics in a neutral, clear, and concise manner.

You will demonstrate excellent organizational skills, professional writing and proofreading ability, and familiarity with the use of style guides. Ballotpedia has its own style guide that is based on the AP Stylebook.

Qualifications

  • Knowledge of the United States political system and elections are required.
  • Experience with data entry work, databases, or spreadsheets is preferred.
  • Experience as a professional writer and/or editor is preferred.

Environment

The Elections Staff Writer will work remotely from his or her home location. All Ballotpedia staff work remotely. To join Ballotpedia, you must have a computer with Internet access. Ballotpedia uses the Google Suite (Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive, and more), Slack, and Asana to accomplish our goals. Some familiarity with the Google Suite, Slack, and Asana are helpful.

Ballotpedia has a flexible work environment in which every employee is 100% accountable to the results and 100% autonomous over their time. Each employee will be oriented to the principles of Ballotpedia’s flexible environment during new employee training.

Compensation

The starting pay range for the Elections Staff Writer is $36,000 to $40,000 and commensurate with experience.

In addition to salary, Ballotpedia offers bonuses based on performance and a $7,000 annual benefits stipend, which may be used to pay for a full benefits package, including health, vision, and dental insurance; retirement accounts; and more. If benefits are not elected, the $7,000 stipend is taxed as regular income and added to salary.

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