I don’t know about you, but I needed a few days off after the election last week. For most people, the election is a one-day event that means stopping to vote before or after work. It’s a different world for the newspaper, however. We can empathize with candidates, and often feel like we’ve been on the battlefield alongside them when the big day comes.
No, we aren’t campaigning door-to-door asking for votes. Early on, we start the process of keeping up with paperwork for dozens of candidates. We make sure that everyone is fairly represented, and we go to painstaking lengths to ensure not one candidate gets more coverage than another. That makes it really difficult when often half or so candidates are incumbents and it’s our job to report what they’re doing with their job. It’s a whirlwind at times!
Most newspapers simply camp out at the clerk’s office on election day and wait for results. For the past couple of elections, we felt the need to be pioneering. Newspapers aren’t dying, as long as they evolve. When competing with a 24-7, 365 culture of social media and online news, as Ricky Bobby would say, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” Well, we aren’t racing in NASCAR, but we are in an intensively competitive industry. The pressure isn’t always on to get it first, but it is to get it right. The last thing we want is to carry the banner “fake news” for incorrectly reporting something, especially when it comes to elected offices. Everyone gets things wrong at times, but those who correct themselves do so humbly.
What we’ve done in the 2018 and 2014 elections is provide live coverage of election night at the courthouse. Now, it’s one thing to do Facebook Live and keep voters informed. We’ve done that. In 2016, we were hot on the heels of the U.S. Senate and presidential election. That didn’t require an army to accomplish. However, covering a countywide election, with dozens of candidates, it’s our responsibility to get the results fast, but get them right.
I have to give a big shout-out to Frank Shelton. When Frank helps, he comes in clutch to get it done. He brings not only his equipment and expertise with TV-4 and KCPS.media, he brings a literal army of students. Those students, stationed at local precincts, made it possible for him, and us, to get the results a long time before the county clerk. His students on-camera and behind the camera, conducted themselves in a very professional manner. As anyone who knows him will say, Frank is THE MAN. We are proud to work side-by-side with him and KCPS on many projects… many of which he and I will both say we neither one have time to do. But, we get it done. Frank gets it done. Thank you, Frank.
We also couldn’t pull off the coverage without the complete assistance we receive from county clerk Mike Corey and his staff. They always go above and beyond to make sure we have what we need.
Jason Valentine and the folks at Barbourville Utilities who provided their new BLINK service for election night is owed a big thank you, and a big apology. This 39-year-old graphic designer-turned-editor and former I.T. professional, asked more questions than he admits to needing answers to in order to get the network equipment running for election night. I’ve learned a lot during this election cycle. Thank you for your help.
Our community owes the folks mentioned, and many more I didn’t mention, a huge debt of gratitude for providing such outstanding services. Knox County is truly blessed. I certainly hope you believe so, also.