Girl Scouts and newspapers: Always prepared
Sometimes I wish Election Day was just another day for newspapers. You have a general idea of what’s going on in the area, and plan the budget for the next day accordingly — Taking breaking news into consideration of course.
But if that were the case, we’d be scrambling around Tuesday afternoon trying to decide on the fly which races are the most important. And there’s no way we’d have enough space set aside in print to cover all the races.
So like a good Girl or Boy Scout, newspapers are always prepared.
For me, planning for elections this year came shortly after the end of the back-to-school page. With 72 municipalities, we start going through the list of races and candidates to determine which races are contested — have more than one person vying for a seat — and which races are basically determined (barring any large about of write-in votes).
Then, there’s deciding which of the 28 contested races to do preview stories on, and Mailing out letters to the 90-plus candidates in all contested races asking them to submit information online for the Voters Guide.
Once that’s settled, we set up a budget for Wednesday’s paper. You can’t leave much to chance when you have a lot of stories coming in after 10 p.m., and only an extra 30 minutes on the deadline to the press. The copy desk (those who design pages) needs names of stories, story lengths, photos and any additional information to plan for weeks before the election rolls around. The pages get designed, and we make back-ups for whatever breaking non-related election news might happen that day.
Then we sit around making sure we’ve covered all bases. What do we want to do new this year? Is there anything else we can offer readers online? This year we’re going to try using the hashtag #yorkvote on Twitter and get readers involved in a conversation about what brought them out to the polls — or what didn’t.
And now, we sit and hold our breaths, waiting for the craziness that will occur tonight. Most of the metro reporting staff works Tuesday night, and will be visiting polls until they close and we play the waiting game for the numbers to start pouring in.
Tuesday will be almost calm in its craziness, perhaps a work of art. And can only be pulled off when we prepare this much in advance.
What are the races of interest for you this year? What would you want to see on Wednesday’s front page?
Here’s a sneak peek at tonight’s budget for tomorrow’s paper.
ELECTION CENTRAL 1A
SLUG: COMM1109 — 12 — County commish. (Joyce) w/art To metro 12:15, to desk 12:30
CITY1109 — 12-15 — York City Council (Emily) w/art To metro 11:45, to desk 12
with refers to inside coverage
ANEC1109 — 25 — Anecdotes from the polls (staff) w/art 9 p.m. to desk
COLOR1109 — 20 — Color story from the polls (Argento) w/art 9 p.m. to desk
UNCON1109 — 10 — Major uncontested races (county offices, county judge, etc.) (Boeckel) 9 p.m. deadline to desk
MUNI1109 — 18-20 — Wrapup of the 8 contested township and borough races (Boeckel) To metro 12:05, desk 12:25
SKOL1109 — 15 — Wrapup of the five contested school district races, leading with York City (Mason) To metro 12, desk 12:20 deadline
DJ1109 — 6-8 — Wrapup of the two contested district judge races (Lee) w/mugs To metro 10-11
JUD1109 — 6 — About Judge Blackwell retention vote. (Lee) To metro 11:45, desk 12