November 8, 2012

The rush on Election Day

We thought Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would mess us up Tuesday night, but it was actually Bill Owens who did it.

Election days are like the Super Bowl for journalists. They are among the biggest, most important events of the year, and you have to have your team ready and your game planned.

We deal with three of them in a typical year: village elections in March, school votes in May and the general election in November.

We have election night down to a science. That’s because we have so many veteran reporters and editors who have worked the night for years.

This year, we had our Page 1 lineup planned out way ahead of time: the presidential election (to be covered by The Associated Press), the Congressional District seat (Joe LoTemplio), 114th Assembly District (Dan Heath and Ashleigh Livingston), 115th Assembly District (Lohr McKinstry) and Malone dissolution (Denise Raymo). Kelli Catana was on photo duty.

We also had to report on a smattering of town and village races around our coverage area of Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.

The stories all have to be written between the time results start coming in, usually 9:30 at the earliest, and when we go to press. We usually like our presses to start running at 12:30 a.m. on a weekday, but that gets pushed back for election night. Still, the later we get the papers out of the building, the more chance we get complaints about late delivery, cause problems for our drivers or miss early newsstand sales.

So, in other words, everything has to be done fast and accurately in a span of a few hours.

Add to that the modern demands of social media — people are watching for stories on our website and spurts of news on Twitter.

The reporters get the background written for the articles ahead of time, explaining a little about the candidates and the races so all they need to do late at night is top them off with the results and quotes from the winners and losers.

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Pinch of Time