Behind The Stories

Cancel Your Brunch: Behind The Scenes Of Breaking Election News

Tonight Vice Presidential-hopeful Paul Ryan will take the stage at the Republican National Convention to give a pretty important speech. But only two and a half weeks ago, Ryan gave another important speech: accepting Mitt Romney's invitation to be Romney's running mate.

Arnie's messages to Emily at 11:58 p.m. on Friday and 12:18 a.m. on Saturday telling us the plans for the VP announcement later Saturday morning. i

Arnie's messages to Emily at 11:58 p.m. on Friday and 12:18 a.m. on Saturday telling us the plans for the VP announcement later Saturday morning. Emily Hellewell/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Hellewell/NPR
Arnie's messages to Emily at 11:58 p.m. on Friday and 12:18 a.m. on Saturday telling us the plans for the VP announcement later Saturday morning.

Arnie's messages to Emily at 11:58 p.m. on Friday and 12:18 a.m. on Saturday telling us the plans for the VP announcement later Saturday morning.

Emily Hellewell/NPR

Early in August, knowing the VP announcement was expected soon, we made a plan with NPR's election team Assistant Producer Arnie Seipel to embed ourselves in the newsroom when Mitt Romney announces his running mate and observe our journalists as they cover the live announcement.

However, we were surprised when Arnie told us just before midnight on a Friday that the announcement was coming early Saturday morning. Live announcements and breaking news don't care if you've got Saturday brunch plans.

Back to the office it was.

To set the scene a bit, here's a snapshot of what was happening when we arrived at NPR HQ around 8 a.m., which was about two good hours after most of the Weekend Edition Saturday (WESAT) team were at their desks checking sources, booking guests and pulling audio:

  • Linda Wertheimer is hosting WESAT today. She's in the studio along with Washington Desk Correspondent Don Gonyea and Senior Washington Desk Editor Ron Elving;
  • In the control room, the director, engineer and others are busy focused on the second-by-second development of the show;
  • Elections Editor Neal Carruth, Deputy Washington Editor Beth Donovan and Weekend Edition Senior Producer Bridget Kelley are planning the next thirty minutes or hour of coverage with others outside the studio;
  • The focal point of action in the newsroom is the Rundown Board, displaying the minute-by-minute schedule of the next two hours of coverage (as you can imagine, during live coverage plans change from one minute to the next).

Play the timeline below to see what happened from there (pop it into full screen and use Firefox or Internet Explorer for optimal viewing):

The coverage continues throughout the day. We decide to leave the rest of the reporting to the experts and head out of the studio. As we are walking out we pass by Elections Editor Neal Carruth, NPR News Senior Vice President Margaret Low Smith and NPR News Deputy Managing Editor Stuart Seidel talking about the rest of the day's coverage as the weekend All Things Considered staff are settling in to prepare for the Saturday afternoon program.

Just another Saturday at NPR.

This week and next, NPR journalists and shows are reporting from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Find out how you can tune in and participate both on air and online, and check with your local station for broadcast schedules in your area.

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