Lead Photo SelectionsA couple personal factors have raised my awareness this election cycle. The Illinois junior senator, Barack Obama, has been a figure in the race from the earlies days of a long campaign. I changed jobs — while within the framework of media, I moved from video games to traditional media. Newspaper, radio, television. My colleagues are the reporters, correspondents, editors, and photographers that make of Tribune Company. I don’t write this to seem boastful. Quite the contrary, it has been my association with these people that has enriched my own personal understanding of news and politics in ways that I had not previously experienced. One of my major projects this year was to provide the essential networking support for our editorial staff during the two major political conventions.

I read the daily paper. I work for the daily paper. My colleagues I work with are kind, insightful, curious, garrulous, demanding and intelligent. And despite the particular problems — from the general state of the economy to the specific challenges of print and advertisings to the very specific challenges of reinvigorating Tribune under new management and new ideas — I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work alongside these people.

Tonight, Election Night, I am working the late shift, from the mid-afternoon to the run of press and perhaps later. I slept in before voting this morning. And I tried to anticipate what might happen tonight — to the country, to the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and to me. Election Night is about as big as it gets for news. This is the big night. This is politics on the grand scale and the small scale both. This is a two-year campaign, to research and polls and conversations both on and off the record. That this particular election has come down to a son of Chicago and is culminating in rally of hundreds of thousands in my back yard.

Several of my friends have acquired tickets to the rally in Grant Park and are on their way there now, or are already there. To ensure the timely and reliable production of the paper a team of support personnel are on-hand here at Tribune Tower to swiftly remediate any potential problems. I am here reprising my role from the conventions, but this time overseeing the entire network. So far, things have gone quite well.

I’ve brought my camera. I’m not sure what I am going to shoot as most of the newsworthy photographs are being made elsewhere. But I wanted to chronicle this somehow. I think I’ll bring it down to the newsroom after the pizza arrives. Right now we’re watching poll numbers come in from the east coast and some of the midwest.

Lorem IpsumThe editors’ conference room used for the Front Page meeting has a number of potential mock-ups pinned to one wall and large worksheets of headline ideas taped up over the windows. I’m more than a little geeked to see the copy filled in with the lorem ipsum placeholder text. The headline suggestions have been divided into four major categories: Obama Wins, McCain Wins, Too Close to Call, Delayed Decision. I enjoy these glimpses of newsmaking in progress. To see the notes and the rejected ideas along with the final product. It appeals to my desire to understand how things work.

There are a number of other races of significance in Illinois besides the presidential race. I overhear someone on the metro desk speaking to someone from national that Steven Sauerberg called Dick Durbin to concede as soon as the Illinois polls closed at 7:00 tonight.

Photo DeskJohn Kass is here prowling the hall. I think he desperately wants to go outside for a cigarette but can’t bring himself to do so in case he misses something.

I drift by the photo desk to watch the frames come in from photographers out in the field. We’re getting a steady stream of pictures from the crowd around the rally. I keep taking pictures, trying to capture some of the emotion. How do you tell a story about storytellers?

It’s come to the end of the night. I watch the final touches be placed on the front page of the special edition. “It’s Obama”. No less than forty-five minutes after Senator Obama made his victory speech we had a special edition of the paper in the hands of people at the rally. The editors are diligently at work designing and refining the main edition scheduled to go out to newsstands and subscribers all over the region. I speak with reporters from our Washington bureau, people I worked with at the conventions, who have come to Chicago to cover Election night rather than work out of D.C. One of them tells me something rather poignant at the conclusion of the night. He says that the day is not only good for the nation but for the paper, itself. He explains about how it feels good to be doing something you love and have it mean so much to so many people.

I must agree. It’s an incredible feeling.

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