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2012 Election: Battleground Wisconsin

No state’s political atmosphere captured the attention of the nation like Wisconsin’s in 2011. Ever since Gov. Scott Walker unveiled his plan to dramatically revamp the state’s collective bargaining laws for public workers, the state has been seen as a political bellwether. Now, a little more than a year before the critical 2012 election, the Madison pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists invites area journalists to a unique training opportunity. “2012 Election: Battleground Wisconsin,” to be held Nov. 12 in Madison, will provide journalists with the critical information they need to plan and execute year-long election coverage.

Sessions will include:

• Politics in the Badger State: An Overview of Wisconsin’s Political Landscape with Steve Walters, senior producer for WisconsinEye and the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel capital bureau chief. Walters will discuss Wisconsin’s role in the upcoming presidential election, the expected recall of Gov. Walker, and state voting trends.

• Reading Opinion Polls: What Journalists Need to Know About Polling and Why Campaigns Do It with UW-Madison political science professor and national polling expert Charles Franklin. Franklin will provide insight into what makes a good poll, how to read polls, and what campaigns do with poll results.

• Campaign Finance: Using State Databases to Uncover Who is Giving to Whom with David Julseth of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

• Voter ID and Election Law: What You, the Voters and Local Clerks Need to Know with Reid Magney or Mike Haas of the Government Accountability Board.

• Social Media and Elections: How Campaigns Are Aggressively Turning to Social Media to Win Over Voters, Solicit Donations and Spread Their Message. The state Democratic and Republican parties have committed to providing a panelist.

The training will also include two luncheon sessions: Then and Now: A Roundtable Lunch with Current and Former Wisconsin Political Reporters, and The Youth Vote: Issues Affecting College-Age Voters. Lunch will be provided, courtesy of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Reporters, editors and producers should walk away with a dozen or more story ideas to pursue in their communities.

The training will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Capital Newspapers in Madison, 1901 Fish Hatchery Road, from 10 am until 4:00 pm. It is free for SPJ members and $25 for non-members. Journalists can join the Madison chapter of SPJ for $72 annually and attend the election training and future training opportunities for free. Go to http://www.spj.org to become a member. A limited number of free scholarships for college and high school journalists will be available. Registration begins at 9:30 am.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to Amy Geiger, ageiger@madison.com by Nov. 8 and pay by check to “Society of Professional Journalists, Madison pro chapter,” c/o Amy Geiger, Wisconsin State Journal, 1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, WI 53705. Onsite registration will be accepted, space permitting.

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