4.17.2007

Virginia Tech Front Page Roundup

The worst gun rampage in the nation's history dominated most front pages today. (Above: Today's edition of VT's student newspaper). Newsdesigner.com has an even larger collection.

Steve Cavendish of the Chicago Tribune spoke with Roanoke Times AME for Presentation, Michael Stowe:
When the word came into the Roanoke Times early Monday morning that there had been a shooting at the nearby Virginia Tech campus, there was a lot of concern in the newsroom.

"We waited and waited and the news dribbled out," said Michael Stowe, the Times' assistant managing editor for presentation. "In the first hour we realized that it was a pretty big deal."

The big deal turned out to be the worst shooting spree in U.S. history, claiming the lives of 32 victims and the assailant.

The Times scrambled their staff, including their 18-person newsroom in nearby Christiansburg and photographer Alan Kim who, as fate would have it, lived near the campus in Blacksburg.

"Most of the AP pickups were Alan's pictures," Stowe said.

A quick scan of U.S. front pages shows nearly every paper using Kim's photos in one form or another.

In a previous era, this might have been the time for a special afternoon edition of the morning-produced Times. But Stowe said they started publishing everything they could on Roanoke.com.

"We're in a world now where you don't even think about the next day's paper. You just start putting things online," he said. "We had a map of the campus up by 11:15 and added timeline pieces throughout the day."

Staffers were called in from their days off. As the day unfolded, an eight-page special section was planned which was bumped up to 12 during the evening.

"It was a great team effort," Stowe said. "The whole place pulled together as newsrooms do. It affected our community in a big way."

And, from Gayle Grin, managing editor for design & graphics at the National Post and the vice president of SND, regarding their image-less front:
The National Post faced a big challenge dealing with America's worst campus shooting. We had no photographs as the paper does not use Associated Press material and AP had the rights to the early pictures coming out of Virginia Tech. The only thing available were frame grabs which the Post used to maximum advantage and, together with innovative typography, produced a paper with plenty of impact. The Post has been the test case in the CanWest chain in dropping the AP service.


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