How Miss Mississippi and election nights are the same
Published 3:20 pm Friday, November 8, 2019
There is a first for everything, and on Tuesday, I helped cover an election.
I wasn’t sure what to expect since I have never helped cover one, and I have to admit that it was a bit nerve-racking.
The closest thing I could compare it to is covering the Miss Mississippi Pageant. It, too, has its stressful moments.
I have to scurry up on stage, wait for Maggie Wade to do her live interview, and then grab a few quotes from the winners.
I am always nervous doing this since the winning contestants speak faster than I can write.
Yes, I take a recorder, but that too can make things complicated.
I’m standing there with pen and pad and writing, all while trying to make sure the recorder is on.
In trying to maneuver this minutiae, I recall the days when the children were small and I had to carry them around. I always said mothers should have three arms. I guess that could go for reporters, too.
Once situated, I begin asking my questions while hoping the recorder is close enough to pick up the conversation. Most times it is, but the only problem is I also pick up the background noise from the surrounding excitement.
Unfortunately, when this happens it can take up to a dozen times of playing back the recorder so I can make out what a contestant said.
Then there is the pressure of trying to get my story flipped in time.
Without a doubt, working on deadline has been the most taxing aspect of my job, and on Tuesday, the pressure was on. It was all hands on deck, and we even had a student intern working with us for the first time that night.
Years ago, before all the new technology, the newsroom would have just been focused on getting print copy out. Now, we also post to our website and social media. This adds even more stress since folks nowadays like their news sooner than hot off the press.
And in the mix of gathering this information and getting it out to the public, we still make sure to fact check before we share it.
I was happy to have a young person in our midst that night, since I am not the most proficient when it comes to social media.
My job was to hang at the office with the editor and wait for the reporter to call in from the courthouse with vote counts. Once the editor got the numbers, he would post them to a spreadsheet where we could tabulate which precincts had reported.
The intern, along with our publisher, would then get the updates out on our website and social media.
Our photographer was on duty, too. He was busy snapping pictures of the candidates who were hoping and praying the results would be in their favor.
My job, once a winner was declared, was to call him or her for quotes.
Once again, like at the pageant, I felt the jitters. I knew these candidates would be like the contestants, excited and talking fast. However, unlike covering the pageant, I got to work from a desk.
I wonder if the Miss Mississippi Pageant Board would consider setting up a desk on stage following the preliminary wins and crowning for me to use?
On Tuesday, I was also tasked with trying to reach those who did not win. I was a bit nervous about this job not knowing how they would feel or what they would say after a loss. Fortunately, the one candidate I was able to reach showed nothing but integrity.
Now that the election has come and gone, I can say I am glad I had the opportunity for this experience.
Not only was it a pleasure to be part of a team with my co-workers, it gave me the chance to see the election process from a different perspective.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.