Civic News
Elections / Municipal government

Watch’s collab with comedian-creator TaTa Sherise to explain local elections

It's one example of our ongoing experimentation with storytelling methods to break down big or inscrutable concepts.

TaTa Sherise explains how local governments funds city services. (YouTube screenshot/

This content is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.

Many policy issues are dense, jargon-filled and just plain boring. Local elections in particular struggle with an unfair imbalance: Seemingly the more inscrutable the topic, the more important its effects.

We at confront it regularly. We cover deeply a narrow niche — entrepreneurship and tech careers — that has both outsized economic impact and can put you to sleep. Through the years, we’ve experimented with storytelling methods to get around this — from dispatching a comic-book illustrator to using gifs and memes to mixing in various media from audio documentary, podcast and video interviews.

One more approach has been on our list: Collaborate with a creator with a very different audience and voice than our own. It’s part of a new initiative of ours, and we’re thrilled to have our first such campaign. Happily, we didn’t have to go far to find our first collaborator. Some in the community will know well that our beloved operations manager, Na’Tosha Wyles, has a double-life — by night she is TaTa Sherise, a standup comedian and creator who has been called “the next hottest comedian to come out of Philly.”

At times raunchy and silly, Tata may seem far from’s at-times buttoned-up professional appearance — even the most casual startup vibe looks downright corporate when compared to TaTa’s late-night sets. But we share an interest in making important concepts more approachable. For this first test, made possible in part by the Every Voice, Every Vote campaign, we took two of my densest pieces I’ve written about local government, drafted an outline and let Tata run with it.

The timing of these videos are with Tuesday’s municipal elections in Philadelphia, though the lessons can translate across communities — and the collaboration between and creators will be taken far and wide.

For this campaign, she produced one based on a story of ours that asked: What influence do mayors actually have over their local economies? Informed by research and interviews with political science professors, we identified four key roles: positioning, priorities, partnerships and personnel — which TaTa helped visualize.

The second video she produced went back to a 2020 story of ours explaining the legal constraints on how local governments fund projects — going so far as mentioning municipal bonds.

The result? We took big, important and boring concepts and made them more approachable. It’s something we hope to do lots more of.

Series: Every Voice, Every Vote

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