Friday, November 02, 2007

Nobody's perfect -- especially around elections

I walked into the office Thursday and all hell had broken loose.
Everyone in the newsroom -- all six of them at that point -- had logged one complaint or another about our Special Election Section that had come out in that day's paper.
Ooh, that hurts.
There are not words to describe how tough it is to put out one of those election guides -- especially when we have to gather information on 60-plus races involving some 300 candidates.
There are no big, flashy races coming up Tuesday -- my apologies to Bill Grace and John Romoser and Bonnie Ivancic and everyone else who is slighted by that comment.
The race we are looking at for the top of Page 1 the day after the elections is the countywide 0.25 percent sales tax increase. That is what we see as our biggest election story.
Oh, and any incumbent mayor getting unseated. Those stories will get prominent play, too.
Oh, and the school issues -- such as the 4.99-mill bond issue in North Ridgeville.
Oh, and the 0.25 percent income tax increase in Avon to build a YMCA rec center.
And that about sums up why it is such a bear to mold an election into something our readers can -- and want to -- read. Nothing is that important and everything is very important.
Christina Jolliffe, the metro editor, is point person at election time. She is the epitome of organization (God love her) and manages to keep everything straight.
We decided for this year's election preview to give all the candidates the same questions to answer. We thought that would give voters the most accurate picture of the differences between the candidates.
And for the most part, it worked out. The races were divvied up between the reporters (God love them) who managed to quiz the candidates while maintaining their already big workloads.
I say it worked "for the most part" because some of the complaints were "you didn't run everything I said."
Well, here's the deal. We only have so much room. We -- news editor Ben Nagy, that is -- had to do some creative cramming to get all the information we had into the 44 pages allotted to us for the section.
Ben figured out how everything would fit. We decided it would be more useful to readers to group cities -- for instance, all the races in Amherst -- rather than topics -- for instance, all the school board races. Ben and his copy editors had four days to do this.
We checked it and checked it and checked it again, Ben graciously fixing all the problems we found.
But, as usual, we did not get it absolutely perfect. (I actually think it might be the quest for that elusive perfection that keeps journalists coming to work everyday.)
We left out some photos (they were misplaced in our electronic archive) and we misspelled one candidate's name (sorry Bob Slovak, candidate in North Ridgeville's First Ward).
But, I think we now have everything straightened out and we can relax.
Until Tuesday night, that is.

1 comment:

Loraine Ritchey said...

And Patti- don't forget in Lorain we are now running the Dog and Cat(Misty vs Dexter)fight for "Write -in" for all "unopposed candidates"! We are giving the voters a choice and a voice. It has been a tough battle, very little press but true democracy is a live and well in Lorain - at least for the next two days or so.

In all seriousness thanks for all your great coverage on the issues and campaigns. Loraine Ritchey ( Misty Morn's- Leadership Not Litigation -campaign manager)