Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Topsy-Turvy Election Results Played Havoc with Headlines

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Topsy-Turvy Election Results Played Havoc with Headlines

Article excerpt

With Florida the focus of the presidential election, it's no wonder that readers have placed election coverage under a microscope.

So here is my review of election coverage in the Times-Union.

It's Bush (not yet): Sometime around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, while Democratic candidate Al Gore was retracting his concession to Republican candidate George W. Bush, Times-Union presses were rolling with this headline, "It's Bush."

That headline, used in about 100,000 newspapers, proved to be premature. The earlier headline, "Florida cliffhanger to decide outcome," could have worked for several days. The awful irony is that had editors gone home as usual and not pushed deadlines, the later headline would never had been used. By the time the outcome was in doubt again, the presses had nearly finished their run. It was too late to make another change.

Some readers were furious that Bush had been declared the victor. Many other newspapers declared him, too. Some of them had time to make another change. But not everyone fell into the trap. For instance, the two daily Chicago newspapers, fearful of a "Dewey defeats Truman" headline, never declared Bush the winner.

Should there have been more skepticism, based on the erroneous projection early on election night that declared Gore the winner in Florida? Yes. But I can't fault the effort. And I'm reluctant to second-guess.

On Wednesday morning, calls to this office changed from anger to curiosity as readers realized that history was being made and reported. Meanwhile, the Times-Union was offering readers copies of Wednesday's paper as a souvenir. Guess which front page they were requesting? "It's Bush" could be a collector's item. The number for Back Issues is 359-4262.

Here are notable journalistic stumbles and achievements from this election season.

You're the liberal media: A July story on U. …

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