The `What If’ of Journalism

So, Obama won and the papers are filled with the prepared summaries, overviews and reactions. I want to know what happens to the other prepared material, the articles written just in case McCain made it. What happens to these important counterfactual documents? Is there a library or resource centre I can go to to find out how the papers would have reacted had McCain won, or Kerry won, or Gore won?

Answers on a postcard.


Giovanni says:

Ah, yes, I’d love to see them too, but I don’t think you’d find that kind of alternative-history piece archived anywhere, they seem to be guarded pretty closely and, I am, told, swiftly destroyed.

On a much more prosaic level, a few years ago the Italian daily “Gazzetta dello sport” published by mistake an edition touting a scudetto win by a team that hadn’t in fact materialised. They were quick to withdraw it but at that point everybody hoped that the other team would pip them a week later, because then they would have had to come up with new commentary demonstrating how the other team’s win had been well constructed and inevitable.

Sometimes the in memoriam pieces surface prematurely – Paul Newman and Steve Jobs are recent examples. But it’s not alternate reality as such, unless Jobs developes a gadget that grants him immortality.