Monday, 25 October 2010

E-Day vibes

Election days in the Toronto Sun newsroom have always been hectic, with staff winding down over a brew or two after the municipal, provincial and federal elections votes were counted.

We're not sure what the belt-tightened practice is now, but in Doug Creighton's day, a hotel suite would be booked - and stocked - waiting for the 333 crew.

It was always an opportunity to mingle with the political columnists who would be gloating about their words coming true, or trying to explain why they were so wrong.

The federal Tory "Party of Two" outcome comes to mind.

John Downing and Lorrie Goldstein were usually in the Top 5 in election office pools, which explained why they were being paid big bucks to write about politics.

In yesterday's Sunday Sun, editor-in-chief Rob Granatstein predicted a win for George Smitherman over Rob Ford, who was the Sun's pick. Interesting.

Sun print faithful will be expecting the usual election day coverage tomorrow - complete results, Andy Donato's cartoons and enough analysis to fill one of those beloved, never-say-die Toronto streetcars.

Deadlines be damned.

Brian Whipp is a TSF reader who remembers election days in the Alberta newsrooms.

He writes: "Interesting about what you raised on the election thing. I remember when elections were a huge big deal before notebooks and online results, with reporters and interns at every poll.

"They filed with Radio Shack trash 80's. We had to hook 300 baud modems to city hall to get returns and editorial would enter queries on a dumb terminal in the newsroom to get results from various polls.

"We all had to get one or two hours of on-site training prior to election night. It worked pretty well.

"Then the Internet came and it was all online. Both western Suns had no up-to-the-minute updates on the latest election night and the Twitter stuff that was easily four hours old. It didn't seem to work very well.

"It was a first effort for social media crowd, so it added a bit to the suspense, especially in Calgary.

"Anyways, replates in the last couple of civic elections were no big deal and usually  we were all in a bar before last call with somebody bringing in some inky copies of the city edition with pretty much all the results - except for a handful of polls.

"It was always a fun night and things always went smoothly with pizza for everybody (including the back shop) who was there."


  1. you guys were in the bar while the guys were in the press room... while the guys in circulation were spreading the news my guys would say...
    "that's a pad da ling!

  2. My first job at my first daily was as an hourly-paid caller on municipal election night. A junior clerk would write results on an overhead projector, like bowling used to be, then wipe them out and write in new ones as new polls came in. I sat on the phone in council chambers (a real phone, with curly cord) and repeated what she wrote to a reporter back in the newsroom who would then shout it to a typist. I did this for four or five hours and at the end thought "There has to be a way to do this more easily, like, hmm, wait until the end and call in the final numbers." This was the ’80s. It isn't like we were live Twittering it. I suspect it had more to do with giving the editors something to yak about over their cigarettes, beer and rye ... in the newsroom. Of course, the bug bit hard, and last night I worked what might have been my 25th election (I have worked in many provinces). Still feeling the buzz.