It’s T-minus six days until Election Day (thank whatever Higher Power or lack thereof you may happen to believe in), and traditionally, many newsrooms would be laying off their election coverage on Monday and Tuesday, with the idea that listeners, readers, and viewers of news should be able to go out and vote without the campaign back-and-forth ringing in their ears or stinging their eyes. The other important point of the traditional stand-down is that if – that Higher Power forbid – we should get something wrong in an Election Day story, there might be no chance to correct it before voters go to the polls.
But in 33 states and DC, every day for at least the past week or so has been Election Day. What about voters in Idaho, who’ve been casting early ballots for over a month? What about that resident of the all-important swing state of Ohio, who made up her mind after hearing your station’s coverage of the first Presidential debate on the morning of October 4th and went to vote that afternoon? If you later realize there was an error in your story, the next-day correction will be too late for her. And sure, you could send out a correction on Twitter or Facebook, but maybe she doesn’t have her smart phone attached to her hip all day.
Early voting has certainly made us re-think the timing of our election coverage. We can’t save all our best stories up until the week or two before the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November. I think we might also consider whether our traditional prohibitions on Election Day campaign news and analysis might need a re-think too.