By: Joe Strupp
It’s d?j? vu for new Fort Worth Star-Telegram editor
When word spread through the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Sept. 15 that a gun-toting killer had gone on a bloody shooting spree at
a nearby church, none of the newsroom staff had quite the same reaction as
Deputy Managing Editor Judy Wiley.
That’s because Wiley, who joined the newspaper staff Sept. 1, had been through this before.
Just five months earlier, Wiley was an assistant city editor at the Denver Rocky Mountain News when the Columbine High School shootings occurred, leaving 15 dead and many wounded in Littleton, Colo.
“A lot of things went through my mind,” said Wiley, 41, who works in a Star-Telegram bureau but was dispatched to the main newsroom to help with coverage of the shootings. “First, I couldn’t believe I was in this again. Then, I just thought, ‘I know how to do this,’ and helped out. Having been there before made it a lot more real a lot faster.”
Like most newspapers in America, the Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News spent most of Sept. 15 preparing coverage of Hurricane Floyd, which was bearing down on most of the East Coast at the time. But just after 7 p.m., both newspapers were forced to switch their lead coverage to local concerns when the shooting spree erupted.
“It was the single biggest tragedy that has ever hit Fort Worth, so we didn’t give it a second thought,” said Wes Turner, publisher of the Knight Ridder-owned Star-Telegram. The paper bumped up its single-copy press run from 30,000 to 40,000 for the next day’s issue.
Turner said he also added four more news pages to the usual 18-page “A” section and delayed the regular 12:15 a.m. deadline to 1 a.m. to allow for the latest information.
The Star-Telegram continued coverage in its Sept. 17 issue with a special eight-page section of photos, anecdotal stories, and updates on the tragedy.
At the rival Morning News, owned by Belo, managing editor Stuart Wilk increased the paper’s “A” section from 26 to 28 pages, moved back its single-copy press run from 11:30 p.m. to 12:45 a.m., and bumped up the number of single copies printed by 10,000.
Each newspaper’s Web site also saw a boom, with Star-Telegram.com attracting its biggest one-day total of 291,000 hits ? almost 100,000 more than usual ? and DallasNews.com, the Morning News’ online edition, reporting 750,000 page views during the 24 hours following the shootings, double its usual activity.
(Editor & Publisher WebSite:http:www.mediainfo.com) [Caption]
(copyright: Editor & Publisher September 18, 1999) [Caption]