Election Night Coverage: Let's do it, and do it now!

When I was teaching, I loved having students in my reporting class who reacted to the world around them with a sense of urgency and intensity: Let’s do it, and do it now.
No wonder, then, that the Aquin made me smile last week. The editors, reporters and advisers were up as late as 3 a.m. Wednesday, preparing a print edition that had to go to press at 9 a.m. and an online edition that was posted by 11 a.m., less than 15 hours after the last votes were counted.

In addition to five stories on the results in Minnesota’s congressional races and a sixth story about on-campus voting, the Aquin site featured two video stories and a photographic slideshow from the headquarters of the Republican, DFL and Independent parties.

One of those video stories, from DFL headquarters, was as polished, professional and powerful as any offered on the network affiliates in the Twin Cities. The election track from Shane Delaney and Kari Jo Johnson of Campus Scope featured solid reporting, thoughtful photography and crisp editing. The pair got good quotes from the major players and found students from Hamline and Macalester to give a youthful perspective. I would have put their story on the morning-after show at WCCO without hesitation.

The fact the coverage was so quick and thorough was not accidental. The student media advisers – Mark Neuzil, Greg Vandegrift and Tim Scully – are no strangers to late nights, big numbers and demanding deadlines.

Five Aquin reporters were out in the field, each paired with an editor back in the office to put the story together. Two photographers from the paper and four from Campus Scope handled the visual chores.

“We all sort of recognized that this was a big election and we wanted to be a real news publication,” said Aquin editor Rory Mattson. “On Tuesday night, there was a totally different atmosphere in the newsroom. We had the TV going and things were hectic.

“Our adviser (Neuzil) told us, ‘This is a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.’”

What I’ll remember is how good college journalism can be when everyone gives a hoot.