Election Day

My day started with a three-hour webinar. I have four of those this week. There was another hour of Zooming this afternoon. Plus two hours in the studio, where I watched the news team put together some nice election nice coverage. They’ll be proud of that. Team coverage, in-studio interviews, they pitched it back and forth. It looked awfully nice.

But it made for a full day. Or a full-enough day. (So I’m glad I voted last week, but from the look and sound of it around here, I might have waited longer last Monday than people did today.)

Here’s Noelle, anchoring for us this evening:

She’s so steady, and always does a really nice job.

We brought in all the big guns.

I got home just after 8 p.m., which is the earliest election night I’ve had since 1996, I think.

My first election night was as a cub at the campus paper, covering local and Senate and congressional watch parties. If you’ve not been to a Democratic watch party in a hotel banquet hall you haven’t really experienced local politics, is all I’ll say. That night I also talked to Bob Riley just after he was tapped for his first term in Congress. I believe his campaign office was a retro-fitted farmers market, if I recall correctly. The Republican would serve there six years and then two terms as the governor of Alabama. I also talked to Jeff Sessions on the phone that night. One of those gentlemen was more cordial than the other.

I was on the air, and still in college, for the 1998 mid-terms. It was ambitious of us, really. In 2000, well, I ended up catching a few minutes of sleep in my car between election events and being on the air the next morning. It was a long night, for sure. Everyone said that, and they said it about the next several weeks.

The 2002 midterms was a gubernatorial election in Arkansas, where I covered Mike Hubbard’s re-election, when he was still mostly normal. Arkansans also elected Mark Pryor to his first term in the U.S. Senate. He’s a family legacy in that state and had been the state attorney general. It wasn’t a coronation, but it was.

The 2004 election I was producing content, but don’t have a big memory of it. We were all just sick of swift boats and Michael Moore and the staid weariness of the Kerry campaign. The 2006 elections taking place around me saw all of the incumbents win re-election and there was nothing really of note beyond that. Back when people wanted a status quo. I edited a lot that night. And I also used the word “wary.” The next day I interviewed reporters and political scientists.

But 2008 was different. I was in a newsroom, but it wasn’t my newsroom. It was my first student newsroom and the mystery wafted away pretty early in the night. Still, a long night in the newsroom watching a paper being put to bed. I had to talk some people into covering, you know, the historic election of their time. Journalism!

In 2010 I watched the students working around a bit of history. The entire state had turned red. Everything in the executive branch, and for the first time since Reconstruction, the Republicans gained a majority in the state legislature. The man who engineered it, rose to become Speaker of the House for Alabama. Corruption charges soon followed him. He was convicted on state ethics law violations in 2016 and appealed and held off his sentence until September of this year. Just today, in fact, he was transferred from county to state custody. (He was also a former employer of mine.)

That year, 2010, also saw the first win for a woman in a contested race in the state. Alabama sent two women to Congress, including the state’s first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama.

In 2012 I walked into the newsroom after a class to find the news editor designing a front page for a Romney win and another for an Obama win. Journalism! I suggested making a question mark-style front page, just in case. Everything was decided before I’d finished eating dinner and so I watched them put finishing touches on that Obama issue long into the night.

I have no recollection whatsoever of the 2014 midterms. All the incumbent congress members were re-elected around me. I was living in two worlds, and so it always felt like I was sleeping over at someone else’s house and never where I belonged. And Robert Bentley was elected governor in Alabama. I think a lot of people would like to have fewer recollections than what comes to mind these days when his name is uttered.

In 2016, well. New school, new newsroom, new building, and I bet you remember your own experience from that night. It was another late night. I think I left after all of our productions were done at about 2:30 a.m. or so. That’s not an un-standard time for me, on election night.

Tonight, it was just after 8 p.m. when I left for the house. Now I have no idea what to do with myself, other than to watching glowing maps on computer monitors and television screens. So I’ll do that.

I’m also watching the work of former students covering the election pretty much everywhere.

I counted people working in 11 different states covering their local elections tonight. That’s something special, to me.

Here are some photos I took this weekend.

Some amazing weather we’re having right now. Taking advantage of every moment of it while it lasts. And hoping it lasts forever.

Some of those pictures are so nice that one or two of them might wind up as backgrounds on the front page one of these days. Speaking of which, there’s a new look to the front page right now. It looks something like this:

Go check it out.

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