Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VPR Vice President of News John Van Hoesen draws back the curtain on how Election Day plays out behind the scenes today at VPR

It’s exciting for us all to see months and months of news coverage come to a conclusion with the election. VPR's investment in public service has included many news stories, feature stories, interviews, Vermont Edition programs, special coverage with VPR debates, online news and features, slide shows, and commentaries. The candidates have been in our studios and the voters have been on our air.

So today, VPR news staffers are out with the voters and the candidates on the last day, pulling together the final pieces of information that will conclude our election coverage. Here's a sampler of what this looks like:

A nice feature story on elections past by Steve Zind started the day this morning, adding a warm touch to the importance of voting. Right now, eight reporters are gathering audio from voters all over the state that we will use in the course of the day and tonight during our special coverage. Listen for our Election Day update at (Bennington started voting at 5 a.m.) and on Vermont Edition, Jane discusses voting rules and laws (a neutral topic for this day) and we'll have a nice piece on preparations at the polling place. We'll follow-up again in the evening newscast.

Then we'll be ready for our live coverage at 7 p.m. Veteran journalist Steve Delaney will be our host tonight during the hour and he'll be joined by Hamilton Davis, a former editor of the Free Press, who has also covered national politics. He is also known for an investigative series on Vermont's health care system that aired on WCAX. Steve will guide us through the night with the first hour at 7. And then VPR will join NPR's special coverage for the evening, through 3 a.m. VPR will be back through the night at 20 after and 50 after the hour with election updates. And we'll be taking listener calls.

You'll hear Steve speak to Bob Kinzel, who will be covering the Republican side of the election. Bob will be live from the Capitol Plaza hotel in Montpelier. Bob will capture speeches by Governor Douglas, Lt. Gov. Dubie and others as they occur.

John Dillon will be at the Democratic headquarters in downtown Burlington. John is hoping to get a few moments with Sen. Leahy if possible. If the Democrats are in the White House and there are more Democrats in the Senate, Leahy's future will be a big story. You’ll also hear from Gaye Symington and Peter Welch.

Steve Zind will be with the independents today, where Anthony Pollina will be a big story. Nina Keck will be reporting from VPR's new studio at PEG-TV, the public access channel in Rutland's Howe Center.

During the night, we'll be looking at the results of six bellwether towns that VPR has analyzed over past years because they mirror the statewide election results. Those towns are Bolton, Bethel, Randolph, Cambridge, Jericho and Bristol. Lynne McCrea has been working with volunteers to make sure we can get those results in as soon as possible. We are aware, though, that if clerks have to count a lot of ballots manually, it could be a longer than usual night.

You might wonder where we get our primary numbers for election night. We are using the AP Vote Count system, which is an online system that updates town-by-town numbers for all the Vermont towns and cities in the races for president, Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor of accounts, state House seats, and state Senate seats.

Several computers are set up here in Election Central at VPR’s Colchester studios. It serves as a funnel of information to Steve on the air – and to VPR.net. Check out our special online election pages with results, tape, and photos. Check out our great online look!! Plus, we have the wonderful NPR election map!

VPR’s Vermont Edition producer, Patti Daniels will be in master control for the night coordinating the many aspects of the on-air results. Ross Sneyd will coordinating our behind the scenes election gathering and looking for the right moment to get one of our reporters live on the air. (Patti and Ross have been working for quite a few weeks on many of these behind the scenes details.)

Then, after this is all over, we have a whole set of election stories and audio to get ready for Wednesday morning! We usually finish up somewhere between midnight and the early hours of the morning.

MitchWertlieb and Morning Edition producer Melody Bodette will pepper the the morning with results, starting at 6 a.m. You'll hear all the news stories during the newscasts. Plus, we are trying to have an interview with the governor-elect first thing in the morning!

There are big races in New Hampshire and New York, which we will hear about in the course of the election coverage as well.

When Vermont Edition rolls around again tomorrow at noon, we will review all the results and discuss what it all means. We'll discuss the presidential results, the US Senate results, and the Vermont results. This show is still being planned and we'll be going with the flow to some degree depending on the outcomes.

Thanks to to everyone here at VPR for even more behind the scenes work to get this important news coverage on the air.

Have a great Election Day!

John Van Hoesen
Vice President of News

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