Election night

doug richards, wxia with tharon johnson

Interviewing Tharon Johnson, Reed's campaign manager

Election night is a noble pursuit for local TV news.  It’s about the delivery of timely information to that desirable part of the audience that actually pays attention to issues.  There’s drama and intrigue.  It’s a night to deliver breaking news which doesn’t involve a police investigation.

Below are 10 random observations about election night, which transpired last Tuesday in Atlanta and a handful of other cities / states around the USA.

Along with Kym France Wilson, Devin Miller, Bill Jones and John Samuels, I worked Kasim Reed’s election night party at the downtown Hyatt Regency.  I also brought a camcorder.  The result is below.

1.  Though required to arrive at your candidate’s election night party in time for a 6pm live shot, there’s almost nothing truly relevant to report at that hour.  The campaign is over.  The results haven’t come in yet.  It’s no-man’s-land, information-wise.  You’re there to set the stage and ensure the viewer that — you’re there.

2.  Since meaningful results rarely come in prior to 9pm, election night is mostly about standing around.  You make smalltalk with politicos and other media.  You read a book.  You watch people drink.

3.  If the candidate actually shows up prior to 9pm, nothing good can come of it.  There’s nothing they can say that’s new — unless they’re conceding or claiming victory based on exit polls, which doesn’t happen.

4.  Democrats have more fun at election night parties than Republicans.  They just do.

5.  Mary Norwood’s election night party was at the Varsity, a giant hot dog stand.  I kinda get the symbolism, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather kill an evening at a hotel ballroom.

6.  Kasim Reed’s press guy vowed that Reed would be on the podium, making a speech at exactly 11:01.  Or, at least that’s what I thought he said.  Reed didn’t hit the podium until 11:25, however.  This all but scotched Reed’s face time on the local news that night.

7.  WSB’s Alan Hand wasn’t actually snoozing during the evening.  He and Lori Geary humped into the lobby to shoot a quick chat with Reed as he arrived at the hotel.  See #3 above.

8.  I got my best updated election returns via Twitter, #chrissweigart,  #11alive.  Just sayin.’

9.  The only election night I can vividly remember was in 1986.  I was covering Sen. Mack Mattingly’s party.  Mattingly lost a whisker-thin vote to Wyche Fowler, but wouldn’t concede.   I ended up staying at Mattingly’s hotel HQ through noon the next day, when he finally threw in the towel.  As a guy in my 20s, I could barely handle it then.  I can’t imagine trying it now.

10.  We hear WGCL didn’t do an election live shot during its 11pm newscast until 11:25pm, apparently by design.

10 thoughts on “Election night

  1. 2video

    Doug you are mistaken, WSB did do a live shot for the web at 10pm. I think you were playing with your camera then, by the way not bad editing, as far as your camera work, you got a ways to go! Sorry.

  2. longgone

    the dead zone… that time between 5-10pm on election night when the hotel ballroom is mostly an echo canyon… some cheery faced candidate underlings

    liked the music..

    totally entertaining stuff…

  3. Dirty Laundry

    Good stuff – LOVED the behind-the-scenes peek! Entertaining. Give us more of this. (Kym – you’re an on-cam star! ha)

  4. Jim

    GREAT video, definitely a keeper. Didn’t think the camera work was all THAT bad:-)

    Sorry you got stiffed on your live shot. It was sort of sad…you looked lonesome. Did a good job filling with basically nothing though.

  5. Icarus

    I’m going to take a possible exception to #4. In my past life as a political operative (and well before blogging), the Republican types tended to look at the media who attended the election night parties as a bit of a curiousity, not unlike an alien from another planet.

    Remember, most of us believe(d) the myth about the lib’ral media, and looked at you as somewhat of the enemy. I’m guessing you probably knew more folks at the Democrats’ parties – not because of your personal political affiliation, but because they viewed media differently, and worked the relationships better.

    Thus, overtly or subconsciously, you probably felt more welcomed at the Democrats shindigs, and thus were able to enjoy them more.

    Then again, we have our share of pretentious a-holes and a lot of our older women could be the reason we’re the party of the elephant, so maybe the Dems really have more fun.

    I’m just not prepared to admit this yet.

  6. scott hedeen

    i’m curious… how did WXIA’s coverage do in the ratings? lest we all forget… however sad it may be… was anyone watching?

  7. LBJ

    I was flipping back and forth between you and 2 at 11pm. 11 kicked 2’s rear. In the first 5 minutes, 11 was live and 2 had a lot of tape…it was like I was watching a Saturday morning newscast of election night.

  8. spaceyg

    Yawn. ATL v-bloggers, all 3 of ’em, were doing all kinds of wacky election night/political event webcasting, smart phone streaming, online vids, live blogging, live Tweeting, etc. for the past few years. Good luck with the teeming masses thing.

    Sadly, our greatest ATL political online broadcasting innovator, Shelby Highsmith, moved to DC to become, seriously, a rocket scientist with the DOD.

    Sad because he was a media artist, with a genuine artist’s sensibility… in that he had that fierce, inextricable urgency to be in new mediums and odd places before anyone else was there.

    I just kinda tagged along in his media wake with whatever gear I could scrounge up and wherever there was free wi-fi. He was a pompous ass too, but as Shelby was better looking and whip-smarter than 99.5% of the general populace he could get away with it. Moreorless. (He did have some issues getting laid, I think. But he’s got a girlfriend now in DC so maybe that problem has been, er, alleviated. I diverge…)

    I hope Shelby’s still too cool for any room he walks in. Shelby helped me shoot this one (of many) from the summer of ’07, and makes a cameo appearance at the end. You’ll see plenty of familiar faces here too:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s