Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dewey Defeats Truman

At 3:01 AM on November 9, 2016, in Alabama, newspaper printing machines at two locations grinded to a halt. The unexpected had happened: Donald Trump had won the presidency. Per normal procedure when a front page is printed and the headline changes overnight, hundreds of printed front pages were destroyed and the "alternate" front page was loaded in, and printing started again. Few, if any, paper copies made it out into the world and were promptly retrieved. 

Unbeknownst to the technician who saved the day, 60 seconds earlier a computer had automatically and electronically transmitted their "first print" papers over the Internet to, just like 900 other newspapers do every day, and have been doing for years.

The Birmingham News in Alabama proudly displayed their headline "Madam President" but listed the electoral count for both candidates as "XXX" -- awaiting a final count from their editors. A truly "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment.

The Huntsville TImes hadn't loaded the winner's picture in yet, but carried the same headline, with the entire lead text in nonsense Latin placeholder text. 

Preparing two different newspaper editions is not unusual, of course, because historically print media has had to be created far in advance of its release date. The double edition of Newsweek Magazine caused a stir when the Trump-only version was leaked. "The election was rigged!" was the chant, because everyone, including Trump's supporters, didn't expect him to win. is currently not responding, and when it comes back up, it will probably not have these copies anymore. I have the PDFs saved if anyone is interested. 

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