Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life in a newsroom...

...on Election Night

Nov. 4, 4:00 p.m.:
The motto for our Election section is "The Nation Chooses." It'll be the pagetopper on every page and comes complete with a pretty flag/star graphic. This is more involved and crazy then I thought. Stay tuned!
Nov. 4, 4:15 p.m.: As we came into work we learned that we would need to design and edit all of our non-election pages by 10. We'll have a newsroom-wide meeting soon to tell us how the night will go. That's right - none of the designers actually know what's going on. It's sort of stressfull because we're all in the dark here, even down to which designer is responsible for which page. And, oh yeah, the local section (normally 10 - 12 pages) is going to be 22 pages long! Of Election material! That's almost double what that section normal is.
Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.: Just got out of our election night meeting and while pages are finally assigned we still don't really know what's going on. It will be a confusing night I'm sure.
Nov. 4, 8:02 p.m.: And the predictions begin. Not one single state has fully reported their results (highest is Vermont with 21% of results reported), and yet news networks are already 'calling the race' or predicting who they think will win what. My advice is to ignore it all until about 10 pm. That's when the more full reports will actually be finalized.
Nov. 4, 10:12: The newsroom finally looks like the stereotypical newsroom: people running around, steady murmur of people calling to double-check facts, and updates being yelled from one end of the room to another. This is what journalism used to be. I wish it would stay like this.
Nov. 4, 11:20: And McCain has conceded to Obama. I personally thought his speech was really good and I am glad he spared the country a prolonged race. It takes a lot of class, and I respect that he didn't let his pride get in the way of what's good for the country. Well done McCain and well done Obama.
Nov. 5, 12:20: And our first edition is out. I can't tell if I'm shaking because of adrenaline from rimming (editing) a front page story with less than 8 minutes before deadline or if it's because of the giant thermos of coffee that I finished seconds before I started rimming said story. This was an amazing experience, from the entire newsrooms crowded around several TVs to hear McCain's concession speech to the Editor in Chief of our paper crouched over an thesaurus trying to come up with a 'sizzling' hed to mark this momentous milestone. It was all incredible to be this keyed in to our democracy and my paper.

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