Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bus Wreck Wreaks Havoc on Weekly

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bus Wreck Wreaks Havoc on Weekly

Article excerpt

The biggest story in last week's LaPlace (La.) L'Observateur should have been coverage of a local high school track meet and baseball playoff finals. But when a bus carrying riverboat gamblers crashed on May 9 in nearby New Orleans, killing 21 people from LaPlace, the 5,000-circulation weekly had to shift into high gear to give full attention to one of the worst tragedies in the area's history.

Putting its only full-time reporter to work virtually around the clock, sticking a newsroom receptionist on the phone to dig up victim background information, and shuttling a part-time photographer to New Orleans and back to shoot wreckage and funerals, the small weekly managed to pull together a 24-page paper, with one-third of the space devoted to the tragedy.

"It is very hard for two people to do everything that is necessary," says editor Sandy Seal, who also had to edit a weekly shopper and install a new computer system in the days following the crash. "We have been meeting every hour just to see where we are at."

Reporter Leonard Gray, who was celebrating Mother's Day with his in- laws when the story broke, says he was thrown into a whirlwind of phone calls, background checks, and reporting that did not let up for three days. …

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