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Election Night 2012: A Newsroom—er, Basement Timeline

By Amyna Dosani

5:30 p.m. – I arrive at the office in the basement of the HSM, having already participated in the obligatory debates about voting, liked a sufficient number of election-themed Facebook posts and purchased (and consumed) a delicious election-themed iced cookie from Quack’s. No, I didn’t vote today. I voted early.

I begin editing the nonelection articles. All of the senior staff, a.k.a. the A-team, is working tonight. I am amused to be editing both a potential story about President Obama winning the election and another right after on Mitt Romney winning the election. We’re basically preparing for any scenario for each election-related article. It’s funny, but it makes sense.

6:30 p.m. – The politically inclined get hungry, too. The Daily Texan advisor buys us platters of sandwiches. The hordes attack. We turn on the news — CNN, in case you were curious.

6:50 p.m. – A critical vote of the sodas takes place, turning the copy desk into a microcosm of democracy. Coke or Pepsi? As an objective journalist, I won’t reveal my vote, but after a 50/50 divide among four of five editors, our fifth swing-state editor chooses to not vote. However, for some reason, Coke wins. Chaos ensues.

8:02 p.m. – A wild nonelection story appears. WTF is that? ….Oh, it goes on page 2. No wonder.

8:51 p.m. – We finally finish editing all of the articles for every outcome of every election issue, along with the few articles in the other sections of the newspaper. Now the real wait begins.

10:14 p.m. – President Obama is projected as the winner after winning Ohio. All of a sudden, there are a lot of Obama fans cheering on the news, but we’re confused. “Wait, did somebody just win the election?” someone yells out from across the room. We think it’s a false alarm at first, but then we go forward with it. That was quick…

10:20 p.m. – By now, we are working on writing headlines and updating stories, filling in the “xxx” blanks in the text with actual statistics as we receive them regarding the various propositions and politicians voted. You’d think there would be more whoops and cheers and such, but there’s no time for that. We’re all busy!

11 p.m. – The Associated Press broke. AP Exchange, the website media use to syndicate AP articles on their publications, went down, likely due to a server overload, with the last update from 11:06 p.m. only providing projections and no clear updates on the results of any propositions or the election of a president. We’re stuck waiting.

11:45 p.m. – Reporters begin streaming back in after covering the election.

11:50 p.m. – Silence blankets the newsroom as all eyes go to the TV, where we crowd around and watch Mitt Romney give his concession speech. For better or for worse, all work stops for a while.

12:26 p.m. – We’re still waiting on AP Exchange to get up and running, but due to deadline, we settle for whatever good stories we can access for the World&Nation page.

12:36 a.m. – Obama speaks, giving his acceptance speech on TV. Audience members cheer on the screen, but in the newsroom we only half listen this time as deadline quickly approaches.

2:30 p.m. – While many are off celebrating or mourning election results or even gone off to sleep, Election Day is only just ending for us…the next day! It was a night well spent, being a part of the industry that protects democracy on the night we see democracy in action.

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