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We'll be working hard to get you the election news

By Joe Centers • Nov 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM

All puns aside, tonight is huge for this country.

This is the biggest mid-term election in years and people want to know as much about it as possible. We hope we have given you enough information to make an educated choice. And now, we hope we can give you as much post-election information as we can.

With tighter deadlines it becomes harder each year. Until we moved our printing operation to Sandusky, we had a 10 a.m. deadline on the day after the election. When we moved our printing north, that deadline moved to 2 a.m. Now, it has been moved up again in order to get the newspaper to our readers as early as possible.

In the May primary we got the final results at 10:25 p.m. — five minutes before we needed to ship our pages out. 

We had a 2 a.m. deadline back in 2016 and that wasn’t enough time to get the final results of the presidential election.

We hope those results roll in early tonight so we can get you a full wrap-up of the election.

That’s what we do — get you the news.

It’s not that way everywhere. The deadline at the Mansfield News Journal is 4 p.m. That means no sports coverage and certainly no election coverage. The News Journal is a Gannett paper and that is a decision that has been corporation-wide for tonight’s election coverage.

“In cities across America, you won’t be able to find even the most cursory election results in your Wednesday morning newspaper next week. Is this speeding up newspapers’ transition to digital — or just burning a bridge they still need to cross?” Ken Doctor wrote last week for the NiemanLab.

“Editors have long had to battle deadlines on election nights across America — pushing press runs to the last possible moment in order to get the most complete results into the next morning’s paper. Print is many things, but it isn’t a great real-time medium.

“Now, though, Gannett is throwing the digital switch. Across its 109 local markets, readers will be directed — starting this Sunday, as editors are being urged to prepare readers in advance — to head to its digital sites for results. The idea: Recognize and act on the cultural changes — among readers and in newsrooms — to embrace real-time media for real-time news.

“(And save a little money on newsprint.)

“When long-time readers of the Des Moines Register, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or Fort Myers News-Press open up their papers Wednesday morning, they’ll see hardly anything in the way of results. They may see stories on voter turnout totals or ‘wrap-ups on the voting scene’ or ‘a look ahead to what readers can expect in the days ahead.’ Even on Thursday, when nearly all vote totals should be in, don’t expect to see newsprint used when cheaper pixels can do the job; the complete election results will be online, Amalie Nash, executive editor for local news at Gannett’s USA Today Network, told me Wednesday.

“It’s a move both to push readers online and to reduce costs. The cost savings come in and around print production. While Gannett hopes to convince readers to make a habit out of using their websites, next week’s move isn’t targeted at immediate digital subscription conversion. Gannett will drop its paywalls for 48 hours (or more if need be) to allow everyone access to election results. Further, print subscribers already have digital access included with their print subs. Consequently, there’s no upselling here, but there’s the potential for downselling: Why pay more for print when it offers increasingly less than a digital sub?

“All sites should adhere to their current print publishing deadlines,” read the Gannett memo that went out this week — which caused some off-the-record consternation among Gannett’s editor ranks. “The last story should be submitted within 45 minutes after polls close or no more than 45 minutes before your press start — whichever comes first.” Some editors have asked for exceptions to the new rule — which, coming only on Monday, upended some of their prior election coverage plans. Most had intended, as usual, to push deadlines back by hours, especially given the heat of this midterm election.

“And those press starting times are way earlier than they used to be. With more copy editing and page layout handled by chains’ centralized hubs, and with more newspapers relying on shared or outsourced printing facilities, the days of getting evening stories into the print paper are already gone in many markets.”

We don’t want that to be the case here. While we can’t guarantee the results will be done in time, we will do our best to get you the results in Wednesday’s paper. We will be here working hard tonight doing our best to make sure that happen. I will be at the board of elections when the polls close and will get the results to news editor Matt Roche, who will then put the information online at www.norwalkreflector.com.

We will have all of the information online, but we will do our best to get you as many of the results as possible in Wednesday’s print edition.

That’s what we do.

If you haven’t voted yet, get to the polls and let your voice be heard.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]


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