Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's Election Day, bring on the pizza

    I give credit to Scott Ferrell, longtime sports editor of The Shreveport Times and now digital editor there, for his post on Twitter this morning:
    "Or as they say in every newspaper sports department across the country, every day is Election Day in sports."
    Oh, so true.
    Guarantee you that all those survivors of newspaper sports desk around the country are thinking, and saying, exactly what Scott expressed. And laughing about the pizza party they'll be having in the newsroom tonight while the election results -- and the stories -- roll in.
    The newsside reporters and desk personnel will be in mild states of panic -- mild early, severe panic late near deadlines. It happens five, six, seven nights a week in sports.
    Yes, elections are difficult to cover and there seemingly are thousands of angles and stories and photo ops to cover. Just like any Friday or Saturday night in sports during football season or in March during basketball season or in the middle of summer in an Olympics year.
    If the people who run newspapers gave us -- the sports department -- pizza for every difficult night that we had, we'd have owned a pizza franchise.
    You think I miss those nights? No way.
    I don't miss 50 to 100 or so high school football games -- depending on how big the market you're in -- being phoned in, and stories or roundups needing to be written, while you're also dealing with the 10 to 25 games from which you have reporters sending in stories (which need to be edited and which need headlines written, and possibly with photo cutlines/captions added).
    Plus, there are -- depending on which month -- major-league baseball roundups to be one, and a Texas Rangers game story/sidebar/notes to be dealt with, and/or a Dallas Mavericks story and notes, and a Dallas Stars' game and notes, and maybe some breaking news on the Dallas Cowboys because they're always making news (some of it even good news), and -- hold up the sports front -- here's a late-breaking Rangers' trade.
    There are Tuesday and Friday nights in basketball season when every high school team is playing all over the area, and there are college games going on at all levels, and there's an NBA roundup to be done.
    And even on "slow" days in summer, when there are no high school sports going, there is almost always a full schedule of MLB games and there's news about the Cowboys and there's the shocking latest development of wrongdoing in the sports world.
    It's been the same in every market I've worked in -- perhaps not as busy in Shreveport or Honolulu or Knoxville as in Fort Worth-Dallas or Jacksonville. It's a circus act more nights than not, believe me.
    Meanwhile on news side, the "excitement" level might hit that kind of warp speed once every two or three weeks ... if that much.
    Don't mean to say that newsside jobs aren't as difficult; they can be. Newsside does have a lot more life-and-death stories, and I would not trade places with the reporters and editors who had to handle those.
    I am saying that night sports departments are much more accustomed to the frenzy most nights.
    My wife, who has had an interesting and varied array of jobs, worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for five-plus years -- mostly in the editorial department -- and saw the frenzied atmosphere (and the pizza rewards brought in) on newsside for Election Day coverage. She would remind the people in the newsroom that the sports department went through this almost nightly. (We've been married a long time, so she knew.)
    She said the newsroom reply was: Yeah, but if we make mistakes (on election coverage), they are not forgotten. What we do is much more important.
    OK, I'll concede that point. It is a little more important who is elected the governor of Texas and which party is in charge of the U.S. Senate than whether or not Tony Romo plays Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys.
      What I am saying? No, it's not. What chance do you think the Cowboys have without Romo in the lineup?
      And, really, does it actually matter when the Democrats or the Republicans have the majority in the Senate? They're not going to get much of anything done in the next two years either way. Plus, Greg Abbott as governor instead of Rick Goodhair (thank you, Molly Ivins)? Makes no difference ... well, no difference to me, anyway.
David Brooks, left, and Mark Shields: The political analysts on PBS are the
guys we watch to make sense of what is going on ... if it makes sense at all?
      Of course, I voted. I rarely miss any chance to vote. And I love reading about politics, and following politics on television, and I will watch the election results with interest.
      If you must know, I think David Brooks -- The New York Times' political columnist and perhaps as well-known for his political analysis on PBS -- should be our next President. He knows more, and is more sensible, than any of the politicians I see.
      But back to the original subject -- Election Night at the newspaper. I once volunteered to help out on newsside; I think it was the 2004 Presidential election, and my job that night at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was to do a roundup of the biggest election stories in each of the 50 states.
       As I remember it -- and actually I'm trying to forget -- I did briefs item on each state and then updated as the election results came in. When we got to deadline time, I think I had updated some 30 of the 50 states (couldn't get to the Western time zone states).
        Of course, I panicked near deadline time. You'd think with all the nightly sports desk experience I'd had, I could have handled it with ease.
         But I got in on the pizza party. That's what was really important.
         So I'll miss the pizza tonight, but I won't miss the frenzy on newsside. I won't miss the action.
         Besides, here's the benefit of retirement. There's a pizza seller set up just across from our apartment complex, a monthly occurrence here. I'm going over and buy a pizza now, and we'll eat it as we watch the election results on television. Happy Election Day.


  1. From O.K. "Buddy" Davis: Great blog on Election Night. Boat (Scott Boatright) and I were laughing last weekend about the very things you mentioned. As small as our newsroom (Ruston Leader) is, they were flipping out about the frenzy of Election Night.