On its 10th anniversary, the Sun.Star website buckled down to work. It was May 10, 2010, the holding of the country’s first-ever automated elections, and www.sunstar.com.ph was right in the middle of the action.
The day the website turned 10 was its busiest, as it worked to deliver real-time election updates in different formats and various channels and provide voters direct access to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
When voting opened at 7 a.m. on May 10, Sun.Star website journalists used all formats possible – text, photos, videos, and graphics – and any channel available, not least among them Facebook and Twitter, to keep visitors updated on the latest in the automated polls.
It gave voters an open line to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez through a 24-hour chat that started at 6 a.m. of May 10 and ended at 6 a.m. of May 11. The chat allowed voters to address their concerns and refer their questions pertaining to the elections directly to Comelec.
On election day, when voting stalled and voters got angry and rowdy, www.sunstar.com.ph chronicled the incidents using text, videos, and photos.
Sun.Star was also among the first to post on its news site and other channels like Facebook and Twitter Comelec’s move to extend voting time by one hour.
As voting progressed, the Sun.Star website kept its visitors informed about what’s happening not only at the capital but also in local communities like Bacolod, Davao, Baguio, Pampanga, General Santos, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Pangasinan.
For two days alone, May 10 and 11, the website posted around a hundred short updates of election-related developments and uploaded major story changes no less than 18 times.
After the closing of polling precincts but before May 10 ended, the website already carried articles and tables on partial tallies for national positions that showed Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III leading over other presidential contenders and the top 12 senators, as well as incomplete counts that offered a glimpse on how the fight was faring in such areas as Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities.
Unheard of in past Philippine elections, winning candidates were proclaimed even before election day ended at midnight and Sun.Star gave these stories as well to its visitors as soon as they occurred.
Even today, the Sun.Star website continues to carry post-election materials, such as tabulated results in areas largely ignored by big online news outfits.
But before all those things, in the months leading to the election, Sun.Star promoted Comelec’s precinct finder and helped in voter education by providing information on the modern ballot, poll automated machines, and voting flow. It also gave out important election day reminders.
All these could be found at the website’s election special – Philippine Votes 2010 (specials.sunstar.com.ph/election2010/) – that was created in November last year to make it easier for visitors to access poll-related news.
Voting has ended but Sun.Star’s coverage of the election continues and will continue until the last poll protest is resolved and all winners proclaimed.