Newsrooms have many traditions, and covering the final moments of political campaigns on election night is one of them.
We take seriously our responsibility to report the public shifts in power as voters each year choose who will lead them.
That tradition still stands, despite creeping deadlines and smaller print circulation. In fact, the challenges have forced us to innovate and adapt, going online first with results.
This past Tuesday, we took another big step when we went live, reporting results from our newsroom through online video streaming.
For more than an hour, Nicholas Huba and John DeRosier of our coverage team provided details on races big and small as quickly as they could confirm them.
Outside the newsroom, other reporters staffed campaign headquarters. They interviewed party bosses and candidates, winners and losers and reported back.
It was our most significant step into live broadcasting, with journalists on camera reporting and commenting on election results as they happened. And at the end of the night, everyone involved — anchors, reporters, producers and observers — felt like we’d done something to be proud of.
Make no mistake: Stuff went wrong.
Calls dropped, tempers flared, mics didn’t work (and at some points worked too well). After a year of practice making a weekly television broadcast in partnership with Stockton University, we were still surprised by the nerve-wracking and high-wire type stuff involved in a live show.
But we did it anyway. We got it under the belt.
And we’re going to build on it.
These days, journalism is evolving so quickly, it’s impossible to know exactly if we’re focusing on the right “new” thing.
Newspapers are in transition but readers still want election coverage, so we provide it in print, but there are limitations of deadlines and space.
Videos were once deemed the future, but some news groups that banked on that have busted. Newsletters, blogs, online-only ....
The internet offers an abundance of articles about the latest media success story. You can still find some reviews that are 3 to 4 years old online. But if you search for the links of the projects they were gushing about, many of them have grown cold.
But while the right approach to deliver news is still being sorted, the journalistic skills needed to tell the stories remain essential. They need to be kept sharp and, in some cases, made even sharper.
Our online broadcast was our first of that length and production and a large audience found it and stayed with it through the night. A smaller segment of that audience found it funny and trolled it, but trolls are everywhere, and if you can be stopped by that, then what’s the point? Take the emotion out of the feedback ($#@!! trolls!) and we agree with the ideas.
We need better equipment. We’re getting it.
We need graphics to tell the story. Done.
The important thing as we try to innovate and find new ways to reach audiences is simple:
As Mark Twain said, it’s the secret of getting ahead.
W.F. “Buzz” Keough is managing editor of The Press of Atlantic City.