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Across America, Newspaper Front Pages Reflect A History Still Being Written

A man holds a fresh copy of <em>The New York Times</em> on Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Wednesday morning.
A man holds a fresh copy of <em>The New York Times</em> on Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Wednesday morning.

Newspapers went to press for Wednesday's edition without knowing who would win the presidency – and indeed, that outcome is still unclear at this publishing.

So what does a newspaper editor do when there's no answer yet for the question on everyone's mind? You go with what you know so far.

At the Tampa Bay Times, the big news was that Trump had clinched Florida's electoral votes.

The front page of the <em>Tampa Bay Times </em>on Wednesday trumpeted the biggest local news: President Trump had captured the state's electoral votes.
/ Paul Driscoll/Screenshot/NPR
The front page of the <em>Tampa Bay Times </em>on Wednesday trumpeted the biggest local news: President Trump had captured the state's electoral votes.

In Peoria, Ill., the Journal Star'sheadline was a twist on a word used with great frequency in the past four years: "Unpresidented."

Wednesday's front page in the Peoria, Ill., <em>Journal Star</em> was a play on the word many have used for Donald Trump's four years in the White House: unprecedented.
/ Journal Star/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
Wednesday's front page in the Peoria, Ill., <em>Journal Star</em> was a play on the word many have used for Trump's four years in the White House: unprecedented.

Many newspapers noted that Election Day voting had been straightforward, even though a result in the presidential race remained unclear.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that voting had gone smoothly — but that the presidential race remained undecided, and the two U.S. Senate races in Georgia could be going to runoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that voting had gone smoothly — but that the race for the White House was going to the wire, and the state's two U.S. Senate races could be headed to runoffs.
/ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
<em>The Atlanta Journal-Constitution</em> reported that voting had gone smoothly, but that the race for the White House was going to the wire, and the two U.S. Senate races in Georgia could be headed to runoffs.

Elsewhere, election results shared front-page real estate with the other story: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central Maine's Kennebec Journal, for instance, noted state records for both voter turnout and coronavirus infections.

The front page of Maine's <em>Kennebec</em> <em>Journal </em>on Wednesday featured both record-setting voter turnout and record numbers of coronavirus cases.
/ Kennebec Journal/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
The front page of Maine's <em>Kennebec</em> <em>Journal </em>on Wednesday featured both record-setting voter turnout and record numbers of coronavirus cases.

In California, where the state's support for Democratic nominee Joe Biden was never in doubt, the headline of the San Francisco Chronicle reflected that the election's outcome would be decided elsewhere — in states including Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

"Handful of states will decide presidential race," declared the <em>San Francisco Chronicle </em>on Wednesday. California is not among them.
/ San Francisco Chronicle/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
"Handful of states will decide presidential race," the <em>San Francisco Chronicle </em>declared on Wednesday. California is not among them.

And some newspapers sought to capture a mood: of a nation waiting anxiously to learn what comes next.

The Baltimore Suneschewed photos of voters or candidates, and instead showed a somber image of the White House, illuminated against the night.

The front page of Wednesday's <em>Baltimore Sun</em> captured a mood: the White House illuminated against a dark sky, as "The Nation Waits" for a result.
/ Ben Leonard/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
The front page of Wednesday's <em>Baltimore Sun</em> captured a mood: the White House illuminated against a dark sky as "The Nation Waits" for a result.

And on its front page, the Columbia Missourian captured the anxiety of many Americans about the too-close-to-call election.

Under the headline "Still Counting" was a photo of one person, waiting and watching to learn the outcome.

At the Columbia <em>Missourian</em>, the front page reflected a sense of anxiety about the too-close-to-call result. The lead image was of a person in MacPherson Square in Washington, D.C., fingers tented in anticipation, under the all-caps headline: "Still Counting."
/ Hannah Norton/Twitter/Screengrab by NPR
At the Columbia <em>Missourian</em>, the front page reflects a sense of anxiety about the too-close-to-call result. The lead image was of a person in McPherson Square in Washington, D.C., fingers tented in anticipation, under the all-caps headline: "Still Counting."

Will Thursday's front pages show a winner?

Like the presidential contest, it's just too soon to tell.

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