Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Tuesday night election process kept the country guessing. It kept newspaper operations doing the same.
That is the reason for today’s printed version of The Vindicator broadcasting a “Decision on Hold” and the digital versions showing a “Decision Trump” and “He’s Hired” front page.
It wasn’t an error. It was just a reflection of the dynamic timing of Tuesday night’s historic and unprecedented election.
The difference in our publishing world between digital and print is dramatic. For Vindy.com and our social media platforms, we have the ability to make news appear within seconds of it happening.
With our printed newspaper, there has always been a multi-hour gap between when the paper is done and when it gets to your door.
Our goal is to have the Vindy at your home or store before 6:30 a.m. First it has to be printed. Then it has to be packaged. Then delivered to warehouses. Then delivered to your door. All of that is about a five-hour window normally for us.
You notice the effects of that from time to time, such as in unavailable sports scores from West Coast games.
Rarely does it cause a dramatic difference like you see today.
In The Vindy newsroom Tuesday night, most staff was gone by 1 a.m. Only a handful stayed to finish the two pages affected by who would be president.
On normal days, our last page is complete at 12:30 a.m. Presses start a bit after that, and the five-hour production begins.
We started Tuesday with a plan of 1:30 a.m. for last page — losing one hour of production time. We have a good team. It’s doable.
But we also feared a repeat of 2000 when morning newspapers across the country printed all sorts of variations from "Gore wins" to "Bush wins" to "Too close to call."
Our "worst-case" scenario, we could print as late as 2:18 a.m. and still make 6:30 a.m. happen. After all, we have a good team that can do great things.
As late as 1:45 a.m. with five staffers watching the results and waiting, we started to ponder “worst-worst-worst case” print times and other ideas.
With the numbers as they were at that point, we explored the idea of a Trump win front page – gambling that by 6:30 a.m. the race would be declared.
So just after 2 a.m., when Clinton campaign boss John Podesta came out and said a long, slow count was planned, that was our cue to start the print process and the “Decision on Hold” front page.
About 45 minutes later, when word started to get out that Clinton was conceding, it was just a confusing turn of events for most watchers.
For us, it was a conundrum. Our newspaper was on the press and getting onto trucks. After stretching and stretching, we were out of stretches and stuck with what you saw on A1 today.