Are You Fully Prepared to
Cover Election Night?
Are You Fully Prepared to Cover Election Night?
Written by News Gal
🕒 November 5, 2018
Ah, election night.
For some reporters it’s the best night of the year. For others, it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
I learned a lot when I covered the 2008 election. I was working for a TV station that had barely enough resources to allow us to get our live shot up.
I was working for management who had no clue how to prepare, or plan, for election coverage. I was young. I had never covered an election in a professional capacity.
I was scared. I was unprepared. I was no where near as polished as I should have been to be covering such a huge event.
I remember the excitement in the room as Barack Obama was announced as the next President of the United States.
I remember the anchor at the station calling me, and saying I needed to fill as much time as possible, because this was a huge deal.
I thought I was going to throw up. I’m not sure if the nausea was because I hadn’t eaten, or if it was the nerves. 🙊
I did 14 live shots that night, and thankfully by number 12 the nerves had subsided. I watched other reporters, including the network folks, and picked up some tips and tricks from them.
Fast forward 10 years, and election coverage doesn’t scare me anymore, but that’s because now I know how to prepare.
Here are my tips for reporters covering election night. Let me know what your best election advice is in the comments!
Yeah, I know, no one likes to study, but you have to. Once you find out which race you’ll be focusing on, make sure you learn everything you can about the candidates and the seat.
You need to become a bit of an expert on your candidates. Obviously you need to have the basics down—what party are they affiliated with, what’s their current position, what are their main talking points?
It’s also helpful to learn the history of the seat. How often has each party held the seat, what does this race mean for the rest of the country?
You might have to fill a lot of time during newscasts, so the more information you know, the better.
2. Make connections.
Reach out to the communications director for each of the candidates you are covering.
Find out when and where the candidate will be voting, and see if you can catch up with them there to grab a quick interview for your early newscasts.
Find out where they will be watching the votes come in, and where their party will be.
Make sure you let them know you’ll want interviews, and check in with them throughout the night to see how things are going.
3. Take notes!
This goes along with the studying tip.
I find the easiest way to keep talking points organized is to have a binder with all of the information you need.
Bring it with you, and use it as a refresher between hits.
4. Stay in touch with the newsroom.
Election night can be hectic. There is so much information coming in that things can get missed.
Every 30 minutes to an hour send a brief update to the newsroom, or the person in charge, to let them know what’s going on where you are.
Communication is key to a successful newscast.
5. Pack plenty of snacks.
The newsroom gets pizza. Field crews get nothing a lot of the time.
Water, beef jerky, Chex mix, and granola bars have helped me power through election nights. Trust me, you’ll do a better job if you’re not dehydrated and starving.
6. Take it all in.
Don’t forget, you’re helping to record history. It’s an awesome responsibility, and one that you should never take for granted. 🇺🇸
So good luck, and go conquer Election Night!