The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind., Scott Underwood column
Nov 12, 2012 (The Herald Bulletin - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Back when I worked in sports, my colleagues and I would be amused by all the fuss the newspaper's news operation would make over election night.
Tensions would rise as reporters and news editors hustled to make tight deadlines as election results came in. To us in sports, it was like, "What's the big deal We do this every Friday night during high school football and basketball season."
Now that I help supervise our news operation, my anxiety about election nights is tempered by my experience in sports. You do what you can do in the time you have available. And you deal with unforeseen circumstances -- such as an overtime in sports, or a delay in election results on the news side -- as they come.
Well, there was a lot of adjusting to do this past Tuesday, the day of the presidential election.
First, our computer network slowed to a crawl in the early afternoon, diminishing our ability to post updates on our website. A few hours later, it was discovered that a fiber optic cable a few blocks from The Herald Bulletin had been damaged.
The phone company "fixed" the problem by early evening, but our Internet access continued to be sluggish throughout the night. Late in the evening, The Associated Press servers were slammed by traffic, and our access to wire articles on the election became sporadic.
We adjusted our plan by turning one of the six pages we'd planned for election coverage into a photo page from the local election.
It helped matters that the Madison County clerk's office had election results posted online before 9 p.m. With this advantage, our writers met their 10 p.m. deadline for most stories. Then our editing and design staff worked together to produce and proof the pages.
Part of the fun of election night is figuring out what to do with the front page. In this case, even with an abundance of important local and state races, the presidential election was clearly the top news. So we decided to use a large headline, a large photo and an article on the outcome to take up 90 percent of the front page.
For the A1 headline treatment, once it was clear that President Obama would be re-elected, we considered several options for the wording and the headline size. We eventually settled on "Obama 4 More Years," which we felt told the story without seeming cute or contrived.
Rest assured that, had Mitt Romney won, the headline and photo would have been just as large as those used on the front page to announce the Obama victory.
We sent the final page to press at a quarter after midnight, leaving late-night website updates still to post. Meanwhile, our sports department had cleared its pages an hour earlier, including coverage of the opening night of girls basketball season. To the sports guys, it was just another night on a tight deadline.
Editor Scott Underwood's column appears Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. Contact him at email@example.com or 640-4845.
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