Newspaper’s Front Page Redesign Helps Recover Abducted Children

By: Anna Crane

Two children in Everett, Wash., were abducted in a van last Wednesday while their mother was held at knife-point, prompting police to issue an Amber alert at 10 p.m. The local paper, The Herald, did a last minute front page redesign to get the late-breaking story into Thursday?s editions.

The next morning the paper had timely coverage, but, more importantly, the front-page headline led to the recovery of the two children.

Three workers at a local foundry came across a suspicious-looking van on their way into work Thursday morning. One had read the Herald?s story on his way in, and was curious about the vehicle. When they got to the office, where a copy of the Herald was sitting out, the men re-read the story, which included photos of the two children and a full description of the van, including its license plate number, said Herald City Editor Robert Frank.

Sensing foul play, the men went out to the suspiciously abandoned van and, sure enough, found that the license plates matched those in the paper.

The Herald’s cops reporter had stayed up after the Thursday edition had been put to bed, and found out early in the morning that the children had been found in the van outside the foundry at around 5 a.m. Three hours later, the Herald’s Web site posted a follow-up story.

Getting the Amber Alert into the paper Thursday morning was important to the staff of the Herald, who completely redesigned the page to accommodate the news. The paper went out so quickly, said Frank, that they did not even notice the misspelling of the reporter?s last name in the byline.

Frank said that this was a good example of why prompt delivery was a priority to the paper. Because they had the morning publication, these men knew about the missing children. ?What else were they going to read on the freeway that early in the morning?? said Frank, who said that the Herald?s loyal readership made a difference in the effectiveness of the Amber Alert story.

“We’re deeply read in our community,” Frank said. “If it had been somewhere else, outside of our circulation area, this would have been unusual.”

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