Friday, September 23, 2005

Putting news coverage puzzle together

The Times afternoon Page One meeting not unexpectedly was all about Rita. Though the storm may dominate Page One, it didn't mean everyone was on the same page about what stories to showcase. One debate: should a look back at the area's last major flood in 1991 be put on Page One or would it confuse readers thinking they were looking at current photos?
Most interesting photo: a line of cars in a four-hour wait for sandbags at a Shreveport public works site. That would play with the preparation report. As for preparation, next to my chair in the meeting room was a small wire buggy filled with fruit, junk food and drinks to help the staff weather the weekend ahead. It reminded me that even bureaucrats and state officials have to take personal preparations as well. At mid-day I had interviewed the Commissioner of Higher Education, Joseph Savoie, by cell phone as he ran supply errands in Baton Rouge before Rita arrived.
The reports about rainfall amounts locally had decreased from double-digit forecasts to single digits during the day, but such information, as well as hurricane charting, are such a fluid business. It points up the freedom that on-line publications now give newspapers in updating information, rather than taking your best shot at press time but knowing it could all drastically alter by the time readers open their paper the next morning.
The editors at the news meeting recounted how reporter and photographers teams were posted in New Orleans, Lake Charles and at-large somewhere in another corner of southwest Louisiana (For the moment their exact location was unknown. They'll turn up.).

Craig Durrett, editorial page editor


Post a Comment

<< Home