This was supposed to be some long, college-level thesis on how news articles come together, but I am tired and have a long day tomorrow, so here are the bare bones:
News articles often have only one name in the byline, but – believe you me – it takes a lot more people than that to get a story done.
Monday’s crash piece is a good example. I began Monday morning working on a story about seatbelt usage. But as I gathered information, it became clear that another story was emerging – the number of fatalities in the area this year compared to last year.
While at lunch (thank you Chels, who will I sponge off of when you are gone?!), my city editor Timmi Toler – read: boss – calls and says there is a bad wreck on N.C. 24. She said our chief photographer John Althouse is on his way over and asked if I could find out any info.
Now here is a dirty little inside-the-industry secret I will share with you:
I HATE CRASH STORIES!
Nine times out of 10, when someone calls the newspaper with a “major accident,” it is nothing more than a small fender bender. Then even if the wreck is disastrous-looking, most times people don’t get seriously injured. And then when there are serious injuries, it is so incredibly hard to get information about what happened.
Anyway, John and I meet up at the crash site of Monday’s wreck-of-the-day, a pretty serious three-car collision near the Camp Lejeune Main Gate.
Here are his photos. Click the thumbnails for larger pictures:
So while we gather on-the-scene info, Molly K. DeWitt (the “K.” is silent) calls the JPD and plugs a request for the official word.
Back to the office to compile my article about traffic fatalities with some amazing pictures and a fresh crash to illustrate how dangerous the streets of Jacksonville can be.
The actual crash story had already been updated several times by Timmi and Molly had added the information she received from the JPD. John tossed his photos into the mix.
Oh, and I am sure that either Anita Perrin or Melissa Buckley fielded the first phone calls coming into the newsroom about the wreck. As editorial assistants they are very often the first contact a source has with the newspaper. Their experience in weeding out the real deals from the nut jobs is invaluable to what I do. I don’t think I’ve said that enough over the years.
So then copy editor Joe Miller laid the page out and readers will get the print version Tuesday morning.
So while my name is in the byline (or Hope’s or Suzie’s), a whole bunch of people actually helped. And that’s not to mention the graphics people, the computer techs and the carriers. And the list goes on…