Election night is a big stage for journalists, whether they’re on the political beat or have been drafted into duty. The evening brews a potent mix of anticipation, prognostication, projections, rumor and results. One certainty: mistakes will be made.
Here are five of the most common election night errors, along with tips for how to avoid them.
1. Rush to be first. Oh the glory of beating your competitors by 15 seconds! It never seems more important than on Election Day, and it leads to mistakes. Think “Dewey Defeats Truman,” and those incorrect front pages in the aftermath of the 2000 U.S. presidential race.
Pro tip: Take a lesson from the Associated Press and set the “conditions for accuracy.” Create a process that sets out clearly the information you require to make a specific call or projection, and build in fail safes to ensure that one person’s mistake doesn’t cause a cascade of failure. Read more