Saturday, May 27, 2006

The making of an extra

Thanks to Poynter Online's E-Media Tidbits for pointing to an article in Friday's The New York Times that details how the Houston Chronicle pulled together an "extra" two page wraparound when the newsroom got word Thursday morning that a verdict was imminent in the Enron trial.

The Times' story relayed the timeline as follows. Around 10:20 a.m., the newsroom learned that the verdicts would be announced at 11 a.m. Chronicle Editor Jeff Cohen pitches the idea of an extra to wrap around the Thursday paper, which was already on newstands.

The newsroom began to put the wrap around together and added a story, photos and graphics when the verdicts were returned. The headline read "Guilty! Guilty!" and the work was completed by 1 p.m.

The extra went to press at 1:30 and shortly before 2 p.m., 10,000 copies has been printed. A dozen or so of the paper's employees went to various downtown locations, removing papers off the newstands to wrap them with the special edition. Four employees took on the task of standing outside the courthouse to sell the papers for 50 cents each. Appropriately enough, they arrived just as Ken Lay was exiting the building.

The Chronicle has only published extras four other times, the most recent being on February 1, 2003, when the Columbia Space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas. Other special editions appeared on September 11, 2001; January 28, 1986, the day the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded; November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The Chronicle also has a page on its Web site, "The Fall of Enron," with lots of interesting features including profiles, interactive timelines, blogs, podcasts, trial transcripts and photo galleries.


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