Where were you on Nov. 6 — In front of a television or a computer screen?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

If there is only one night that makes working for a newspaper worth making the decision to work for a newspaper, it’s election night. The buzz in the newsroom could probably light up small villages with its palpable combination of drama and deadlines providing an infectious mood to the air swirling through cubicles and computers. It’s the one time every four years that you knowwhat you are doing will eventually be consumed by a large amount of people, and the weight of spreading the word as to whom will be the new leader of the free world adds an immense layer of relevance to the whole experience.

These days, however, are different. The first word on which candidate took the election isn’t reserved for newspapers anymore, and the rise in popularity of the countless (read: troubling) social media outlets has us all now turning to our Internet-wired devices to find out not only the most recent of breaking news, but also what Uncle Chazz looked like when he dressed up as a potato for Halloween in 1987.

Yes. These are the very things that will be the demise of mankind.

Anyway, I lacked the time Tuesday night to truly scour the Interwebs for some earth-shattering innovative way to consume all the information a Tuesday night in November could possibly produce. Luckily for you, the fabulously educated blog reader, Caitlin McGarry of Tech Hive compiled a thrifty list of the best ways a typical good, old-fashioned, red-blooded Am’rican could digest the 2012 election news (and yes, the legend that is Nate Silver and The New York Timeswere both mentioned as the first destination).

The rest? Well, how about NPR and its big board or YouTube and its reworked approach to tackling the contest from every angle? I’d love to be able to speak to all these things and more, though because I was spending my time eating free pizza and checking Twitter feeds for a surprisingly low amount of funny quips, I have neither the authority or knowledge to do so. And that’s why you should click here to see it all for yourself.

Did you click yet?

Do it. 

I’m not kidding.

OK. Are you back? Good.

Speaking of Twitter, as Slate pointed out Wednesday, there was a total of 31 million tweets sent out into the sky on Election Day, with the service reaching its highest point when it hit 327,452 tweets per minute. Jesus. You’d think a women’s World Cup final was going on or something. Also worth noting: The “I think I’m really funny and here are 160 characters to prove it” device didn’t crash once Tuesday (it would have been wonderful if the Associated Press could have laid claim to the same thing, but I digress).

In the spirit of fairness, I will now quote Farhad Manjoo’s Slate piece from which the Twitter stat came. Yes, he is claiming traditional television was the place to be …

“TV’s best election geeks — especially CNN’s John King and NBC’s Chuck Todd — were faster, more accurate, and more thoughtful than most sources you could find online,” he wrote.“Throughout the night, they told you where Obama was doing well, where Mitt Romney was weak, what was going on with congressional races, and why specific returns in specific swing counties across the nation mattered. With King’s “Magic Wall” — the data-spewing touchscreen map that he operated with the facility of a tweaked-out gamer — and with its live, exclusive reports on the vote count from important polling places in battleground states, CNN became something like a televised version of polling maestro Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. If you were watching TV without the aid of the Web, you would have known pretty early last night that Romney was in trouble, and you would have known exactly why.”

Might you be looking for irony on this Thursday evening to help wash down that first (early) drink of the weekend? Look at his next graph …

“But if TV offered everything I usually go to the Web for — speed, precision, and depth — the Web was full of what one usually finds on cable news: pointless bloviating peppered with unsubstantiated rumor,” Manjoo said. “At its best, Twitter was a noisy echo of television — most people (myself included!) were just telling you what they were watching and how they felt about it. It was hard to find solid information elsewhere online, too. Sites offering live election results were slammed with traffic, which made them slow and unreliable. The scrolling tickers on cable networks offered up results faster than you could find them on most states’ official election pages. Even FiveThirtyEight’s live blog was kind of lame. Most of Silver’s (and his colleague Micah Cohen’s) insights — that Obama was winning Florida’s bellwether counties, that he needed to run up big numbers in D.C.’s suburbs, that he would win the popular vote once West Coast returns came in — matched stuff John King had long ago explained and demonstrated in a visually pleasing way.”

… Because if you can’t present both sides of the argument on a Frederick News-Post blog, where can you be fair and balanced?!

And so it goes. Some people found useful sources online (yay!). Some people found a regular television set as the quintessential source for election coverage (booo!). Hey, if nothing else, we can now start to turn our attention to the Super Bowl to see how Twitter and the current generation of geek-ery looks to rebound from such a seemingly disappointing Internet effort in the 2012 general election.

CBS, you better get your game up.


Leave a Reply