Let's face it the news media has gotten in wrong before. The Chicago Tribune erroneously printed a headline showing Harry Truman being defeated in the 1948 election. In the 2000 election news networks spoke to soon as to who won the white house.
Dhavan Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor of Journalism at UW and Mass Communication, believes networks are more cautious about making election calls. However, he says it may not be as much of an issue with a substantial Obama victory being projected.
Shah notes that rapid reporting of a presidential victor in other states could sway the election. For example results of the west coast affecting whether voters decide to stay home in other parts of the country.
He says even as traditional news operations expand to blogging and new media, the fundamentals of being fair and factual must be adhered to. The new media expert says technology is creating a whole new level of political engagement and mobilization.