On the day of the funeral, the photo staff met at 7 a.m. to review the plan. Each photographer had their place and knew that their position could be the front page photo. Mark Mulville was in the catwalk position, and he took the assignment without question, though he can be uneasy with heights. The day wouldn’t end until almost 5 p.m. and photographers assigned to outside positions, spent much of that time in the rain.
Plans went smoothly. The funeral started late, but it also ran longer than scheduled, giving the press room more time. Photographers either transmitted their full takes directly into the News’ content management system or selects via email through their smartphones. Three reporters worked live – one each for the procession, the funeral, and digital coverage. Rewrite editors handled their copy, taking a lot of the quotes and scene details from the reporter’s Twitter feeds.
Curtiss worked in the office and was a bit nervous because the photographers were transmitting simultaneously, creating a solid stream of images. The photos came in not only on deadline but delivered everything they expected.
“We just sat back and watched it happen because the staff was incredible,“ Curtiss said.
They had anticipated having about 10 minutes to grab the last photo and get it to the press, but they ended up with a few minutes to spare. Curtiss said those few moments allowed them to revisit an inside page, swapping photos for a better edit.
The photos ran big, as Curtiss prefers to go with one strong image large rather than three smaller photos. And, the catwalk photo by Mulville worked out.
“That picture was what we had envisioned, and it couldn’t be more perfect,” Curtiss said.
The presses were running as soon as the last photo was sent and shortly after, about two dozen people from the newsroom, pressroom, and mail room were at the arena, handing copies to the people as they left.
Some people, when they noticed what the special section was, came back to ask for extra copies to share with people who couldn’t make the funeral, many of those being other law enforcement personnel who were on duty.
Both Curtiss and Connolly said there was a high level of confidence throughout the staff while pulling off this remarkable feat of publishing event coverage in real time in print. And, that the veteran photo staff, where the youngest photographer has been there 17 years, was essential to the success.
“I don’t think would have even tried something like this if we didn’t have the photo staff to pull it off,” Conolly said. “They were the key piece to the plan.”