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AP launching a multimedia project on presidential politics


NEW YORK -- The Associated Press this week will launch an ambitious, multimedia project on presidential politics, called “The Measure of a Nation.”

Written by veteran AP journalists Ron Fournier and Ted Anthony, “The Measure of a Nation” is designed as a user’s guide to America for people trying to make sense of the changes unfolding in the country and how the landscape of their daily lives might impact their votes.

“What happens on the 2008 campaign trail is only a mirror of the huge cultural story unfolding in America,” says AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman. “The themes of ’The Measure of a Nation’ are designed to offer insight Americans need to pick, and live with, a president best suited to these unusual times.”

The anchor of the first package, being released for Friday, Feb. 1, is “The Mythic Presidency” -- a provocative, 2,600-word magazine-style piece that takes the reader to unexpected places to reveal the cult of the presidency in U.S. society and examines how the myths that grew up around various chief executives inform how Americans will select a president in 2008.

Fournier, AP Online Political Editor, and Anthony, a national writer, have identified themes they will expand into unique stories about American culture and politics as the series continues. Among the themes are a hunger for authenticity and accountability; anxieties wrought by change; the evolving perceptions of the presidency; and the role of America in the world. The stories will stand alone, but together they will interlock into a larger knowledge base that grows with each new offering.

Among the multimedia elements accompanying “The Mythic Presidency” will be a five-part video mini-documentary by online producer Jaime Holguin investigating how presidential mythology -- and the expectations of the presidency -- play out in Abraham Lincoln’s longtime hometown of Springfield, Ill.; an audio slideshow depicting how images of Abraham Lincoln have evolved in America, from solemn statuary to more outlandish depictions; and bloggy, shorter pieces that illustrate the presence of the presidency in the popular culture.

By Election Day in November, followers of the series should understand their country better and be able to make more informed decisions about their choices at the polls, Silverman says.

“Our goal with this project is to systematically build a sociological snapshot of the state of life -- and of political life -- in America during one of its most profound periods of change,” said Managing Editor Kristin Gazlay.

“We plan a series of smart, themed pieces that take readers to unexpected places and find innovative, surprising ways to reflect their culture, desires and problems, along with the political process,” she added.


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