Friday, October 23, 2015

Late night in the parking lot

Where news is made
London, ON
October 2015
If you're lucky enough to live in a nation where democracy is both valued and respected, every once in a while you're going to vote. Well, at least you SHOULD be voting.

And if you're a journalist, you may be lucky enough to witness the process from a front-row seat. Or even better, to actually BE a part of the process, by working in the field or in a newsroom, to tell the story as the ballots begin to be counted and fates begin to be determined.

I got lucky this past Monday, as I was part of the CTV London team that told the story of this extraordinary day. I actually started my day in this place before dawn, with a remote interview with Canada AM on what you could and could not do with a smartphone in a polling station (story/video here). After some meetings through the morning at the radio station, I came back to the TV studio after lunch to get ready for the evening's coverage.

Newsrooms are always special places to be, and that's especially true during a major news event like an election. Already-sharp professionals somehow find another gear and raise their game. Normal levels of deadline-driven tension are ratcheted even more tightly as everyone somehow juggles even more disparate elements than they typically do. To the uninitiated it may look chaotic. To the rest of us, it's an oddly compelling form of communications-tinged ballet. And it's so freaking cool to be right in the middle of it.

‎My role was to add some digital perspective to the evening's coverage. The mechanics were simple: track all social media activity in the region, pull out some resonant nuggets that reflected the prevailing themes of the night's events, and walk viewers through them. Simple in theory, harder in practice, and hellishly fun once things really started to roll.

I worked closely with the digital/editorial specialists, feeding baseline data from the ridings we were covering and preparing for the moment when the polls would close and the data barrage would begin. It wasn't just ridiculously fun. It felt incredibly good to be dialed so tightly into the team.

By the end of the evening, Canada had elected a new Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives were relegated to a shadowy corner of the House of Commons, and our own region welcomed a mostly new crew of Members of Parliament. Closer to home, the CTV team had pulled off a tremendously complex series of newscasts and updates, built from lots of fast-moving parts spread across the region. And the folks around me made it look easy.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about life as I said goodnight to this phenomenal group of people and headed into the clear, cool night. ‎Taking one simple picture of the brilliantly lit building seemed like an appropriate thing to do at that moment. Because it isn't so much about the picture as how I felt at that point in time.

Makes me wish we could have elections a little more often.

4 comments:

Michael Manning said...

Carmi: I nodded throughout your excellent blog as a fellow journalist. It's wonderful to use your particular gift of explaining how technology works in times as these. There are few teachers to explain it all with your patience, and I'm sure a grateful audience appreciates your work! It's important!! :)

Tabor said...

So lucky for you to be in the flow of your country's changes. And to be able to share that information as it happened!!

Carmi Levy said...

Thanks so much, Michael. I've always admired your gift of telling stories in a space that fuels your passion. I try to watch and learn, but as you know it's a process that has no endpoint. Which is as it should be. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing, and I know you feel the same way!

Carmi Levy said...

Much appreciated, Tabor. The word "privilege" keeps popping back into my head every time I walk into the studio or step up to a mic. I know how lucky I am to be Right There, and I always take a moment to appreciate how meaningful it is to be there. I still feel the need to pinch myself :)