When the Democratic primary roared through Indiana May 6, it was the first time in a long time that WISH-TV in Indianapolis and the other stations in the market have found themselves at the center of a pivotal party face-off for the presidency.
Forty years have passed since the last close race, in 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy beat Eugene McCarthy and favorite son candidate Roger Branigin, the state's governor. “So as you can imagine, we don't have too many people who can draw on that experience,” News Director Kevin Finch said as he was preparing for the event last week. The station has some people who have covered contested presidential primaries in other markets, but for most this was something new.
Still, he said he felt fairly well prepared. The LIN TV CBS affiliate had been preparing for its primary coverage anyway, back when it seemed likely that the Democratic race would be settled much earlier in the year, because several important state contests were also on the ballot, regardless of what happened on the presidential level. Once it became clear that neither Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) nor Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) would win a clear victory before the race came to Indiana, the station merely ramped that up.
WISH's coverage has included in-depth polling on the issues that matter to Indiana voters, as well as the popularity of the two candidates; coverage led by Jim Shella, who has been the station's politics reporter for 25 years; issues stories intended to go beyond the “horse race” aspect of the primary; and Web coverage on wishtv.com and indianapolitics.tv.
Speaking prior to the Tuesday contest, Finch said WISH-TV planned to report on the results all night long, using a brand new high-definition graphics package to display the results superimposed on maps of the state and help viewers understand the shifting results until a winner is declared. Although WISH is not yet broadcasting in HD, it has upgraded its cameras, sets, and graphics to put its best foot forward on this night when all eyes are on the Hoosier State.