Sweating the small stuff election week
It’s been an interesting, amazing, exciting, exhausting, crazy week.
Last Tuesday was Election Day, as you know. Half of you, so happy to have it finally over, just went looking for something else to read because you don’t want to hear about it anymore. I don’t blame you. By the time the day finally arrived, I was ready to never hear words like “super pac” or “crossroads” or “I approved this message” ever again.
For those of us in this business, Election Day is the big event. It’s the Super Bowl, the World Series, Comic-Con and the midnight showing of "Breaking Dawn" all wrapped up in one. This was my fourth presidential election in this business, which means I’ve been doing this a while.
Every election year we stay up late Tuesday night and come in early. We take cute pictures of little kids peeking out from under the voting booths next to their parent's legs. Every four years we wonder why Florida can’t count votes like the rest of the country.
However, this year was different in some respects. One thing that was pretty boss was that we had some new technology at our fingertips. This allowed us to post charts of election results online as they came in. Big whoop, we’ve been able to do that a while, you might say. But we could all be working in the same spreadsheet at the same time. While a reporter in our Rockland world headquarters added results, I could see little numbers magically appearing in the column above. That was because at the very same moment, reporters at The Camden Herald office were putting numbers into the program. And even though the program we were using to build the chart was separate from our knox.villagesoup.com site, it still updated to the site automatically every five minutes.
So you at home could watch the sausage being made. No, that doesn’t make it sound appealing at all. What I mean is, you could tune in to our site on election night and watch election results in real time, almost like watching TV.
Kind of made the dry erase board in my office obsolete.
We really are living in the future in terms of telecommunications. Flying cars, no, but there’s still time. "Blade Runner" is still set seven years in the future. By the next presidential election, I imagine we will have evolved to provide even better coverage, and hopefully, maybe, killer androids.
On a more personal note, I was stressed out going into the election. What if the towns didn’t call or fax in their results? (Thank you town clerks because you did call!) What if my brain exploded? All would be lost.
But when the election actually got here, it was actually kind of fun. We newsies made a party out of it with cheese dip (thanks Kim!) and pizza. We watched Brian Williams on a laptop rather than a TV in the newsroom.
Something occurred to me this week. Every presidential election seems to come at a pivotal time in my life. In 2004, it was my first year as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. In 2008, it was the first election after the major merger between VillageSoup and the Courier crew. Now, in 2012, it was the first major election after we became a new company as Courier Publications. It’s kinda spooky. What will have happened by the end of the next four years? Armageddon, if you listen to my conservative father.
No need to get ahead of myself.
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In other business, our family had a proud moment on Friday morning. Wesley was chosen to read an essay out loud at Rockland District Middle School during an assembly to honor area veterans. Several other students also participated, with students in other grades reading their own essays. A girl with a lovely voice sang the national anthem and the school band, including Wesley on trumpet, played a few patriotic songs.
Of course, it was really all about the veterans. My friend Roy Peasley, who was at Iwo Jima, was among a number of locals with military experience to attend.
Wesley had written nice essay, which we published online at VillageSoup, about Veterans Day, what our personnel in the Armed Forces sacrifice and what his great grandfathers did in World War II.
I was proud, not only of the essay itself, but of the fact that he could get up the courage to talk in front of the whole school. Having beaten stage fright once, you tend to be able to conquer it again and again over the course of your life, so it was good for him.
On the drive over, I told him not to think about how many people were listening, but who they were. These people are his friends and neighbors, his community and they are all rooting for him.
“Or I could picture them in their underwear,” he said.
“Or that, if it works for ya.”
Don’t worry if you were there. He told me later he didn’t really picture people in their skivvies.
So another week is over with its victories and setbacks. As we harvest old political signs and batten down for winter, there’s only one direction to go, for good or for bad, and that’s forward.
I'm Dan Dunkle and I approve this message.
Daniel Dunkle is news editor for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife and two children. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter at @DanDunkle.