By: Wayne Robins

Out-of-State Papers May Hire Research Firm

While The Miami Herald reels in chad-flecked ballots in
its recount of the so-called “undervotes” in the Florida
presidential race, a consortium of newspapers that includes
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los
Angeles Times is just dipping its poll into the water.

“We think we’re close to signing an agreement with a survey
research firm, but we’re not there yet,” said John Broder of
The New York Times’ Washington bureau, the newspaper’s
point man for the consortium. “We all agreed to clam up on it
until we have a contract signed. It’s clear that we are
determined to try and re-examine these ballots. We haven’t
decided who’s going to be in, who’s going to be out, who’s going
to pay for it.”

The Herald has extended its ongoing count to about two-
thirds of the state’s 67 counties. “We’ve had a minimum of
complications,” said Mark Seibel, the Herald’s metro
editor. The paper is focusing on about 60,000 “undervote” ballots
statewide that did not show easily discernible votes for

Seibel said there were about a dozen reporters working full time,
and said there were up to 30 more available if necessary. The
Herald’s parent, Knight Ridder, has offered to send in
reporters from its other papers, but so far there has been no
airlift of bodies from The Philadelphia Inquirer or the
San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.

Seibel said there were no dissenting voices, either at the
Herald or in Knight Ridder, expressing hesitancy about the
paper’s vote count. But Noel Rubinton, the “Viewpoints” editor
for Newsday in Long Island, N.Y., wrote a column in which
he expressed fears that the “gotcha” aspect of the ballot story
was a distraction from meatier investigations, including the
claim that many “black voters were deliberately purged from rolls
as part of an effort to hold down the Democratic vote.”

Meanwhile, though the Herald is alert to the consortium’s
footsteps, Seibel said he welcomes the competition. “We’re very
interested in what they’re doing, we’re happy with what we’re
doing,” he said, adding, “We don’t have a deadline. With this
story, we don’t feel obligated to have a deadline.”

Wayne Robins (wrobins@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering new media for E&P.

Related story:

CHAD ENOUGH? (12/15/00)

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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