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For the Print Team on Election Night, It’s Game On

For the Print Team on Election Night, It’s Game On

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.History-making news is

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Times Insider explains who we are and what we do and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

History-making news is a frequent sight on the front page of The New York Times, but few front pages carry the significance of a presidential election.

Putting the newspaper out on election night is an all-hands-on-deck operation with reporters, editors and designers working under the tightest of deadlines, knowing that the latest results will require quick adjustments and, sometimes, extensive changes in the page presentation.

On Tuesday, for the Times department known as the Print Hub, which designs the newspaper and composes the headlines and other display type, that challenge will be even greater because the team will be working remotely and a clear winner may not be evident.

“This is kind of something we live for,” said Samantha Farlow, a senior news editor in the Print Hub who oversees the print report at night.

“You always know there can be a race that’s too close to call, but that’s not what you plan for as Plan A,” Ms. Farlow said. “But that’s kind of what we’re planning for. If there’s a large gap and it appears there’s more of a landslide, then maybe that might change things a bit. But it’s possible that all the votes won’t even be available to start processing on Election Day. So some of our planning has been for coverage further into the week, if we don’t have a result.”

In anticipation of the printed newspaper’s nearly doubling in size over the week, the team has brought on about a dozen extra people during that time, rather than preparing just for Election Day and the day after. Each person will be assigned specific articles to edit or pages to design, as news breaks or is updated throughout the evening.

Rebecca Rillos, a planner and news designer, will work closely with other sections — particularly the Politics and Graphics desks, which will drive the election coverage — to learn what news is expected and will then map out how that news will be presented on the print pages.

No matter the hour when news rolls in, there are deadlines to be met. Once composed, the first National edition of the paper must be sent to the presses by 8 p.m. The first New York edition must be sent by 10 p.m. The second editions are sent by 11:30 p.m., and between each edition, and until 12:30 a.m., the team will be able to send postscripts, which are updates to a specific page within an edition that is already rolling off the press. By 12:30 a.m., all of the day’s news deemed fit to print must be transmitted to the printing plants in College Point, Queens, and around the country, which will then produce and deliver the paper to newsstands and readers’ doors.

“We’ve worked with our colleagues at the College Point and National print sites to extend the press run as late as possible, with what amounts to four editions of the paper and at least two postscripts to get in the latest news,” said Tom Jolly, associate masthead editor, who oversees the Print Hub. “That’s a lot more than we do on a normal night, when we would produce three editions, with no postscripts.”

The team will be focusing on getting early nonelection and nonbreaking news articles from other sections into the paper’s layout early, so editors and page designers will be free to focus on live election pages later, Ms. Rillos said.

“Certain stories that we know we’re going to have can be mapped out early, like stories about voting lines and photos of people voting,” Ms. Rillos said. That way, she added, “the first-edition paper, which really many of our national subscribers see, will still be fresh, valuable and a service to our readers that Wednesday morning.”

As the night goes on, editors and designers will at times have mere minutes to polish and lay out a new or updated article. Headlines, especially those on the front page, can involve the most collaborative effort, with input from several editors, including members of the senior newsroom leadership.

Because of the pandemic, the team must do this work from home, a challenge that has gone relatively smoothly during the past few months partly because team members communicate continuously through the messaging tool Slack and the use of video chats, said John Woods, a senior news editor who oversees planning and organizing of the newspaper throughout the day.

Still, he said, Tuesday night most likely won’t be nearly the same as previous elections. “We’ll all be at home, and you lose all that excitement and that kind of blood flowing through the newsroom veins,” he said. “Like someone gasping at breaking news and everybody feeling it, talking about it to figure out what it means.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that the spirit of camaraderie is lost. “One of the things about election night that’s meaningful to me,” Mr. Woods said, “is that it kind of shows how well all of us can work together.”

Source: | This article originally belongs to Nytimes.com

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