Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Wsj.com Stood Tall in Shards of Sept. 11

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Wsj.com Stood Tall in Shards of Sept. 11

Article excerpt

'Harder hit than any other news operation in the country,' Dow Jones' flagship online site did more than stay afloat

When Hurricane Andrew ripped through Dade County in Florida nine years ago, it was Bill Grueskin's first day on the job as The Miami Herald's city editor. "I tend to have big disasters when I'm starting something," said Grueskin, tentatively grasping for a little humor as he acknowledged he'd only been on the job as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com) for three months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on its neighboring World Trade Center in New York.

Grueskin, who continues to manage the displaced newsroom of the only profitable paid-subscription news site while trying to find a new home for his wife and three daughters, has earned this laugh. Grueskin, who spent 10 years covering Miami's colorful news for the Herald, said the events of Sept. 11 were different from any other news story he's covered, elaborating with a continued comparison of Hurricane Andrew and the terrorist attacks. "If you get hit once by a hurricane, you pretty much know you don't have to worry about another one for quite a while," he said. "Where, obviously, here you have no idea what's going to happen next, and we have to be prepared for everything." He admitted that, while evacuating WSJ.com's offices in the World Financial Center (WFC) on Sept. 11, he didn't know what to expect.

Minutes after the second plane hit and his staff had posted a preliminary story on the site, Grueskin gave control of WSJ.com to its bureau in Brussels, Belgium.

Staff began heading to parent Dow Jones & Co. Inc.'s campus in South Brunswick, N.J. But Grueskin stayed behind. Foremost in his mind were his wife and 11/2-year-old baby, located a few blocks away in their Battery Park City apartment. He also had to account for his two other daughters in city schools. It took all of that morning just to get his family and staffers out of downtown Manhattan, as they escaped on boats headed for New Jersey.

"If we hadn't had Brussels or Hong Kong, we would have been out of luck," Grueskin said. Those bureaus were still publishing through the generator-powered editorial server in the WFC. A priority in South Brunswick was to set up a new server -- no easy task since the server there only had site templates with a larger ad format that was scheduled to go live Sept. 12.

Despite the fear of losing the WFC server at any moment, WSJ. …

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