Election Night 2008

I’m writing this blog in moments when I can catch my breath during this amazing night. While many of you saw this unfold at home, I’m watching in the midst of the newsroom here at WTAE.

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6:30pm — Everybody line up … we got election night pizza!

It’s a scene of controlled chaos as almost everyone is on call tonight. We have several TV’s in front of us, bringing us coverage from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox ( sorry, MSNBC is too high on our cable systems to get on our cable system in house ). The coverage is just dizzying. All the networks are flashing stats and numbers, projecting state-by-state which candidate won, and using every piece of technology known to man … from virtual reality rooms to holograms in which reporters images are burned into the studio.

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News director Bob Longo capturing the night on camera

No such magic here at channel 4, though Aaron Saykin did find a nice static map to use as he shows us voting patterns in Pennsylvania. Also, Michelle Wright is doing video updates on thepittsburghchannel.com.

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Wendy and I on the set for election night updates

8:30pm: Pennsylvania is in the Obama column, projected by ABC, CBS and NBC. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean the election is over, but it meant the margin or error was very slim for McCain.

8:50pm: When Ohio went in the Obama camp, there was a sense in this newsroom that the issue had been decided. As you know, Ohio and Pennsylvania were pivotal to McCain and he campaigned hard in both states. Once I saw McCain had lost both, I felt as if this was less of a contest and more of a coronation. Looking at the thousands in Chicago waiting for Obama to speak, I got the sense that a seismic shift was taking place.

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Our webstaff getting the word out on election night

9:06pm: I’m back after my first flub during an update, calling Barack Obama “Barack Obomber”. Oops it happens with live TV. In the newsroom, we are watching the returns from the states that closed at 9pm and Obama is now within 100 electoral votes of clinching the election. At the same time, Bob Mayo has found an interesting local story. A group of pregnant women at a Pittsburgh hospital having to go to court to secure their right to vote before the state’s 8pm deadline.

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Watching the returns roll in on election night

10:34PM: Just got back into the newsroom and saw Oprah talking to Robin Roberts on ABC … and I think she is near tears. I’m sure she is not alone as many African-Americans wait for Obama to officially clinch the Presidency. Meanwhile, we are watching some local races … and there are some upsets brewing there as well. As for atmosphere in here, it’s really exciting and more than a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I have ever experienced such energy and such anticipation in my professional career as I am sensing right now.

11:55pm: I just got off the set after the 11pm news … and the wrap-up of this historic election. I feel good because we did a good job covering the election. I’m excited because I got through my first election night without incident. I’m proud because America proved that it can choose a path without regards to race. It is an historic night, an amazing night and one that I will never forget .. for many reasons.

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