Why September 18th is the BIG Election Night for Alabama Media

Most people who are journalists live for the excitement of election night.

After the months of covering a campaign, the debates, the candidates’ forums, the controversies and the issues in the election, NOW the voters are speaking.

Covering the outcome of the election is as important as anything we as journalists do.

But, what happens when there aren’t any candidates per se?   What happens when there is only one issue requiring a simple “yes” or “no” response?   Is that the same BIG DEAL for journalists?

For Alabama journalists, absolutely it is!

YES, It’s a BIG DEAL

If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, check out, this web site by those trying to rally support for $147 million to be taken from the Alabama Trust Fund to cover General Fund expenses each year for the next three years.

Of course, there are those who oppose such  a move.   Many of opponents of the trust fund expenditure held a rally last week in Montgomery.

The issue at hand speaks to the awkward, unconventional way that Alabama seems to handle its budgeting.

It also, in my humble opinion, speaks to the need for some changes in way state finances are allocated.

But, that’s a discussion for another day.

This is Bigger than Presidential Election

When the outcome is a foregone conclusion, that takes the edge off election night.

Few people expect Alabamians to support anyone other than the Republican candidate.   So, there won’t be much suspense on the evening of November 6 here.

Yes, there will be some congressional races local elections (i.e. The Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Race) of interest.  But, statewide neither of our two U.S. Senators is up for re-election.

Excited About Tonight

While the nation is split and the presidential race on the ballot Nov. 6 is the BIG National election,   I think I’m more excited about seeing how Alabama media cover the results of today’s Trust Fund Vote in Alabama.

Regardless of what side you’re on,  it’s exciting to see the local news outlets in Alabama utilizing Twitter to update people on the precinct results in their respective county.

Check out the Birmingham News’ Alex Walsh and his live blogging with up-to-the-minute results.

He’s even doing some “back of the envelope” math to suggest what would have to happen for the ballot issue to fail.

Even better than his blog are his instant updates via Twitter– follow him @ajwalsh08

We probably won’t see a “projection” based on certain counties, or will we?

Perhaps the Associated Press will call the election at some point this evening”

Was there any exit polling today?

Probably not.

But, there is the “raw number approach,” which The Montgomery Advertiser is taking, showing the difference between the counties in its metro area around our state capital.

The Anniston Star kind of used a hybrid of just the numbers and the fast updates with local county info– reporting statewide numbers and precinct-by-precinct totals (though none is posted just yet).

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Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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