Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Days of Waiting Are Over

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Days of Waiting Are Over

Article excerpt

Just after 7:23 p.m., at the first local break into network

coverage of election results, crews for WJXT TV-4 and WTLV

TV-12 were scrambling to cover the big story:

President Clinton had carried Florida, according to CBS, NBC,

ABC and CNN, who made the announcement as soon as the polls

closed at 7 p.m.

Waiting at the courthouse, where votes are tabulated, TV4's Jim

Piggott admitted that he, like election officials, was a bit

puzzled.

"There are a lot of surprised people here because not a vote

has been counted yet," he said.

At 7:58 p.m., Piggott reported that "the first car carrying

ballots just arrived at the courthouse."

But by then, Florida results were old news on the networks,

which were about to announce the results in another gaggle of

states, waiting only for their polls to close at 8 p.m.

In today's high tech world of electronic news gathering, the

local TV news crews, like election officials, are at a

significant disadvantage covering elections. They have to wait

for the messy business of actually counting votes.

The networks, having mastered cyberspace, don't need to fool

with the ballot box. They do their exit polls, feed the

information into their computers and let the machines decide.

The networks restrained themselves a bit last night, since they

are a little uneasy about calling a race while people are still

standing in line to vote. But at the top and bottom of each

hour, as another group of states closed its polls, they rushed

to project winners.

ABC's Peter Jennings seemed almost apologetic last night after

one whirlwind round of unofficial projections, which everybody

treated as official results.

"We got through these projections in a hurry to get them on the

record," he told viewers. …

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