I had planned to write about The Daily Tar Heel’s experience covering Election Night, but State & National Editor Ariel Zirulnick describes it so well, and the night was really hers:
The night was the embodiment of the expression “fly by the seat of your pants.” But somehow we managed to make every deadline of the night and finish the entire paper half an hour early.
And not only was the paper product superb, but we broke new ground for the paper with our election blogging. We had more than 160 posts in about 20 hours. We had reporters riding along in the shuttles that UNC Young Democrats ran to the polls, sitting outside polling sites, chatting up students in line at Alpine Bagel, scanning news sites and checking in at local boards of elections throughout the day. We had audio and video posts. We mobilized a staff of about 100 to deliver news to UNC students that, for the most part, they couldn’t get anywhere else.
I couldn’t have been prouder of our blog. It was one of those things no one knew how it would turn out, and it had the potential to be a colossal flop. I think it’s greatest achievement was that it involved as many editors and staff as it did in producing a strictly online product. And it’s one they were proud of, not something that was going online because there wasn’t room in the paper.
I think the challenges newspapers face in getting support for new technologies are best overcome by jumping headfirst. Hardly any of the reporters knew what they were doing that day when they started out. Few of the editors had any idea how it would turn out. But ultimately it all came together.
There were lots of things that, if we did it again, we’d know to do better. There were lots of things we weren’t doing then, knew we should be but still were limited by staff and resources. But for what we sought to do – tell the story of Orange County of Election Day – I think we succeeded.