Eric Roper covers Minneapolis for the Star Tribune, but on Thursday, he was seated behind three video cameras and some blinding lights, prepping for his role as our first election-night host.
Surrounding him were half a dozen other staff members, some working with the code that will allow live updates in the center of the website, others handling the complex video equipment that will call up maps and graphics showing how the vote is coming in.
Meanwhile, reporters who will be in the field Tuesday were testing their webcams to make sure they could deliver video feeds to Roper. They've already gotten training on how to send photographs to our Instagram account, and on what hashtag they should use for their tweets.
These are just some of the many ways that technology advances, coupled with social media tools, have dramatically changed how we prepare for and cover elections at the Star Tribune. We plan to have all the content you need all night long, in stories, photos, graphics, video and, for the first time, live updates. You can find us on web browser, mobile phones, iPads or Kindles, or on any number of social-media sites. Until then, you can call up an individualized ballot on our "myVote" feature online. On election night, you can send thoughts or questions to us in tweets at #stribelex, which we will feed to Roper.
Of course, a tremendous amount of old-fashioned street reporting still goes into covering elections. Our reporters in Washington, St. Paul and Minneapolis have been fanning out across the state for many months to bring you stories and insight into some of the most important and heated elections in state history. Will Republican Michele Bachmann have any difficulty holding on to her Sixth District seat? What's the truth behind problems with voter fraud?
We've profiled political candidates as well as key players in the amendment fights, such as Archbishop John Nienstedt and other key players in the debate over the amendment to define a marriage as one solely between a man and a women. We've covered all the debates and have plowed through financial reports to show you who is contributing to what campaigns in a year that has seen record spending in Minnesota. And, as it has every election for decades, the Star Tribune has polled across the state to tap into the moods of the electorate, finding some surprising results.
Come election night, more than 50 reporters, photographers and editors will work throughout the evening and into the next morning to bring you the stories of importance to Minnesota. We're watching closely to see if Republicans retain control of the Legislature, or if the voter ID or marriage amendment questions garner the required 50 percent of the vote required to pass. And of course, we will be monitoring the presidential election throughout the evening.
Though our website now has a meter, it will be taken down on election eve so everyone can have unlimited access. We are also adding 22 pages to our Wednesday print edition as we bring you our special election coverage, with an additional 10 pages to follow in Thursday's paper.
One thing you will not see, however, is a rush to call a race or ballot question. The age of instant news creates pressure to deliver verdicts and decisions as fast as humanly possible. It also has brought a lot of errors, with wrong information being tweeted on important news such as the historic Supreme Court ruling on health care coverage and, in some cases, with election results being called too quickly. For that reason, the decision on whether to call the most important questions in Minnesota will rest with me, and I won't be swayed simply because CNN or the Associated Press has made a call.
All of this reflects our commitment to bring you the best news and information about an election whose outcome will affect all of our lives for many years to come. Please vote, then join us online Tuesday night for results and discussion while you wait for our special Election Day print edition.
Thank you for reading the Star Tribune.
Nancy Barnes is the Star Tribune's editor.