Monday, May 2, 2011

What a difference a decade makes

There's been a lot of talk today about learning the news of Osama bin Laden's demise being one of those you'll always-remember-where-you-were-when-you-heard events, much like the terror attacks of Sept. 11.
In my case, it'll be easy.
I was in the same place.Well, not exactly. I was sitting at a different desk. But on both occasions I was here at work.
Those are the kind of events that get the deadline juices flowing. When you become consumed with the need to learn more and to share what you've learned.
Much has changed for us in the news business between these two occasions.
I can recall the quick decision on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to produce an extra edition (something that was once fairly common decades earlier, but a first in my career). We raced to gather material from wire services and phone interviews to get an eight-page section on newsstands by early afternoon.
That left time for a break; then it was back at it to produce the following day's complete edition. People read the news and shared their thoughts in letters they mailed or even faxed in.
What a difference an (almost) decade makes.
Last night when we learned that President Obama was scheduled to make an unscheduled late night speech on an issue of national security, we were able to immediately let people know and enable them to watch the livestream from the White House on our site.
Speculation began swirling immediately, and it only intensified each time the speech was moved back. The tweets were fast and furious.
Long before Obama stepped up to the microphone we had Facebook'ed and Tweeted and sent an email blast and text messaged and posted the news to our Web site.
This time there was no break to gather more information before publishing. It was a constant updating.
And those readers instantly shared their comments with us. (And we published them in the day's print edition .)
There was the same sense of exhilaration; the same spirit of working together in the newsroom to share historic events with our neighbors. Only this time we didn't have to wait for presses to start rolling and a lot of our neighbors don't live anywhere nearby.

- Tricia Ambrose


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