I made history Election Day, too

November 09, 2008|By TIM SHEA

History was made Tuesday night.

Nov. 4, 2008, will go down as a watershed moment in American history.

My fellow Americans, for the first time ever ...

... a female Republican vice presidential candidate lost her bid to move into Number One Observatory Circle.

While Sarah Palin (or is it Tina Fey?) watched the results of the election in Arizona, far from her home state of Alaska, I spent Election Night as far away from the election as possible.

Since we had a full staff of copy editors at The Herald-Mail on Tuesday night, I got to work on the Money pages for today's newspaper.


This came about because Joel Huffer, who has been doing the editors' schedule for the last couple of months, scheduled me to work a day shift on Election Day.

Maybe he did this on purpose in order to keep The Poster Boy for Anxiety as far away from The Herald-Mail as possible.

At any rate, I was asked to work Tuesday night just in case I was needed.

Here is my condensed blow-by-blow account of Election Night in the newsroom.

7:15 p.m. - John McCain has an early 8-3 lead in the electoral vote count. I try to find out who has the early lead in the Ottawa-Washington NHL game.

7:30 p.m. - McCain still leads, but you can feel that the tide is going to turn in Barack Obama's direction any minute. Also turning is my stomach, so I tell Executive Editor Jake Womer I need to go out and get dinner.

8:15 p.m. - With Obama starting to build his lead, the McCain people face a dilemma regarding how they still can win the election. I face a dilemma regarding whether to get ice cream for dessert.

10:30 p.m. - Any minute now, Obama is going to officially win the election. More importantly, any minute now, the Money pages for Sunday will be done.

11 p.m. - Obama is declared the winner. For some reason, when the word "declared" is announced on TV, I'm really craving a chocolate eclair.

11:30 p.m. - I finally get involved in our election coverage when I'm asked to figure out the percentage of voters who turned out in Morgan County. After 30 seconds, I return to my previously oblivious state.

11:45 p.m. - A new wax figurine of McCain appears in front of the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Midnight - Obama makes his victory speech and talks about change, which reminds me that I forgot to change the time on my clock in my car last Sunday.

12:20 a.m. - Copy editor Meg Partington brings over a copy of a page and asks if anyone is available to proof it. I eagerly stand up and volunteer, hoping that she will bring in a plate of her cream cheese brownies in return.

12:25 a.m. - I'm asked to figure out the percentage of voters who turned out in Fulton County. With five minutes until deadline, I figure this probably isn't the right time to brush up on my long division skills.

12:30 a.m. - The front page is sent and we make deadline. City Editor Linda Duffield says this is probably the smoothest that Election Night has gone in the newsroom.

Four years from now, when the next presidential election rolls around, I'll make sure to remind the powers that be in the newsroom of my role in this election and why things went so smoothly that night.

"I don't remember very much about what happened in 2008," I'll say. "But I do remember that those Sunday Money pages looked real nice that weekend."

Tim Shea is a Herald-Mail copy editor. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2329, or by e-mail at

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