I was working slot the night of Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, in charge of putting the daily paper together on deadline ( two editions 11:15 p.m. and 12:15 p.m.).
All was proceeding smoothly until 9 p.m. when I received a phone call from a staff member saying that he thought Ann Richards had died. Unfortunately, the caller was not positive and we had no official confirmation. Over the next half hour, staffers worked on getting confirmation from a family member or official source. I made plans for appropriate coverage.
I called senior editors at home to update them and recommended adding two pages to the paper. Editors agreed and the pressroom was asked to make the change as soon as we had confirmation. Reporter Gardner Selby came into the office to fine tune his pre-written obituary. Photo editors went deep into the morgue to find the iconic photos from Richards’ riveting speech at the Democratic National Convention. I directed my staff to start making plans for changes and to clear the decks of all other copy.
At close to 9:30 p.m., we had confirmation of Richards’ death.
Copy editors and designers went to work, tearing up the pages already planned and adding more space for the obituary. Prepress, pressroom and circulation departments were informed.
The dynamic headlines, strong photo editing and classic design are worthy of a story package produced over two days. Theses three pages were produced in just more than two hours.
I was extremely proud of our team that night. Pulling a plan together and producing high-quality news pages on deadline was one of my strengths as Executive News Editor.