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Monday, March 27, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Election Night meltdowns of years gone by

Editor’s Notebook: Election Night meltdowns of years gone by

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It’s getting to the point where we’ll be gearing up for Election Night, which brings back memories of past such nights that didn’t necessarily go so well.

I remember, when toiling for the Vienna Times and Herndon Times newspapers (R.I.P.) as a mere child back in the 1990s that our best-laid plans for getting the news onto the pages and then off to the printer in the late evening hours of Election Night didn’t quite work out so well.

First, the grand plan (and don’t blame me for this) for a new spreadsheet that would allow all the vote totals to be put in easily didn’t work, which led to a technological meltdown. Which led to the lovely young lady who was in charge of paste-up (for those who remember how news pages used to be put together) to collapse in tears as I tried to comfort her without picking up any harassment charges by being too comforting.


This also was in the era before you could simply transmit news pages by modem, satellite or Internet; in this case, they had to be driven from the office in Reston to the pressroom in Leesburg.

The plan had been for the aforementioned young lady to do that, roughly at about 11 p.m. when we had expected things to be wrapped up. But things actually weren’t wrapped up until about 2 a.m. and she was in no state to do it, so I took the pages and toodled my way up Route 7 from Reston to Leesburg.

Let’s just say I was met with a chilly reception from the powers-that-be and pressroom folks, who had expected these papers to be on the presses hours before. (Definitely a case of “shoot the messenger,” since it wasn’t my fault.)

In the end, it all got done. And not a single “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”-type screwup made it to the readers. It had been a rough night, but only internally.

I’M A POET AND YOU BET YOUR BIPPY I KNOW IT! Our own Brian Trompeter has an article coming up about the recent ArtsFairfax awards, and in the article it notes that one of the recipients was Danielle Badra, who recently succeeded Nicole Tong as Fairfax County’s poet laureate.

(All the cool communities have poet laureates, don’t ya know?.)

In the honor of those two, I’ve come up with a little ditty of my own:

We once had a poet named Tong.

But she had to skedaddle — so long!

So we’ve now got Danielle,

and we hope it goes swell.

Until our next one comes along!

  • Scott McCaffrey
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