Editor's blogJohn Temple is the editor, president and publisher of the News. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also writes a weekly Saturday column.
How the Rocky ended up with different front-page headlines
This morning some readers of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver received a front-page with the inspiring banner headline, "They're alive!" above a photo of jubilant residents of Tallmansville, W. Va. Of course, we know today that sadly that headline was wrong.
Here's what happened.
The news of the survival of the miners broke around 10 p.m., in plenty of time for our first metro edition (delivered from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs). The banner headline on the regional edition, which goes to outlying areas of the state, was "Lobbyist spins web," about Jack Abramoff pleading guilty and vowing to cooperate with a corruption probe of up to 20 members of Congress. The photo for that edition was of a worried family member of one of the trapped miners.
At roughly 1 a.m. we learned that the survival story was incorrect, even though it had been confirmed by the state's governor. We stopped the presses.
Our news team immediately changed the banner and news coverage inside the paper. The new banner, "Joy short-lived" over a secondary headline, "Only 1 miner alive, just hours after 'bad information' said 12 had survived 41 hours." As a result of holding, we were late in getting all our papers to carriers this morning by 23 minutes. It's critical we get them papers on time because they need time to get them to you.
The final edition with the accurate story reached 75 percent of our metro area readers. A headline overtaken by events is the kind of thing we obviously strive to avoid. That is why, for example, we are so careful about calling elections. But we have to start our presses sometime to get people their papers before 5:30 a.m. and when we started the first metro edition the best information available from the Associated Press was that the miners were alive.
The story included this quote: "They told us they have 12 alive," said Gov. Joe Manchin.
He was wrong. As was our first metro edition.
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