Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Day 2010

You could feel the excitement building in the newsroom Monday afternoon: Election Day 2010 was less than 24 hours away.

After months of candidate announcements, charges and counter-charges, primaries, press conferences, and endorsement interviews, the "Big Day" was almost here.
For journalists, news junkies and politicians, Election Day is like Christmas in November.

City Editor Jim Franco and I spent late Monday going over our "tentative" Election Day coverage plan: Making sure we had enough space in Wednesday's edition for results, checking with Chief Photographer Mike McMahon to see if we had photo coverage for all the important races, and perusing the Associated Press Election Day digest for the state and national stories we'll need for our post-Election Day edition.

Campaign staffers had flooded our email accounts all day with advisories about where their candidates would be voting, making last-minutes campaign stops and hosting victory parties Tuesday night. It was a matter of matching up reporter and photographer with the local races and leaving the state and the national contests to the capable staff at the AP.

We even came up with the answer to that all-important question: What to feed the newsroom staff on Election Night. (Pizza and wings unless some quick, healthy inspiration hits me between now and 7 p.m. Tuesday!)

Thanks to coverage support from the staff of our sister newspaper to the north, The Saratogian, it looked like we had a plan that covered all the bases.
And then it happened ...

"We should have an easy night," concluded our city editor, effectively dooming us to an Election Night of upheaval and unpredictability. Everything that can go wrong will now go wrong Tuesday night.

He made the same declaration on Primary Night in September and we were in chaos less than an hour after the polls closed. Results came in late and stories were either short or in bulletin form that required a lot of rewriting and merging of information. The Internet was slow. The Paladino victory speech photo came into our computer system 44 minutes after deadline, although we had watched the event live on television more than two hours before.

Suffice to say, it was "organized" chaos.

And now he's doomed us again.

Actually, the key to covering any major event is to have a plan, but be flexible enough to deal with whatever breaking news develops.

The Sports staff kindly got the World Series over Monday night so their task Tuesday is to get their pages done as quickly as possible and leave the late deadlines for newsside.

We have a good team working Tuesday: Copy Desk Chief Siobhan Connally will be running the dayside operation, while Night Editors Rebecca Eppelmann and Lianne Webster Kim, Copy Editor Cliff Marble and photographers Mike McMahon and Jim Carras will be joining me and Jim Franco on the nightshift.

Here's hoping for the best Tuesday night. And if all else fails, we'll put tape over Mr. Franco's mouth next year.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home