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Election 2018: Controlled chaos

November 6, 2018

12:00 to 1:00

The calm before the storm.

The morning has been quiet — I came in early, if only to try to relax myself — but I can hear the roar in the distance of what’s coming. It slowly grew in my imagination as morning turned to afternoon.

Senior editors in the newsroom are conversing quietly, putting final touches on coverage plans and strategies I’ve worked on for months. I have local news on the big TV screen behind me. Another big screen, which acts as a monitor for the laptop on shelf below it, alternates between today’s news plan, Doppler radar for central Texas, and a map of the Rio Grande Valley, where one of our reporters is now stationed, watching and reporting on what might unfold down there over the next few days. BBC World News is muted on my iPad, which sits propped up on my desk — we still have to keep an eye on the world. Or at least I will.

My reporters are out in the field or at home, resting or preparing for tonight, during which they’ll cover specific campaigns, attend election night watch parties, and talk to voters and candidates.

Election night in a newsroom is a quiet, tense, controlled chaos as we carefully watch voting numbers stream in and prepare news stories that capture the sounds and sensations of what has unfolded in our city, county, and state.

My first election night in a newsroom was at The Daily Texan, the student newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin. I was a page designer and editor. We watched President Bill Clinton effortlessly defeat Republican challenger Sen. Bob Dole. Last night I realized the last significant election night spent in a newsroom was the 2008 presidential election. I was an online news editor for the website of the San Antonio Express-News. I was in charge of political coverage and managed the homepage, and that night I wrote the headline announcing Barack Obama’s victory. I spent 2010 to 2017 in academics, and now in 2018, here I am again.

Part of me has missed it. The rest of me shares the sentiments of most everyone around me: I’m glad it’s here, if only because it will soon, finally, be over.

Here in Bexar County, we’ll watch results here.

Here’s to a long, fascinating, challenging and historic night. People will be stressed, frustrated, angry and confused. I will bring the calm, cool order to the chaos.

I’m home.

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