OLD Media Moves

How WSJ won a Pulitzer for its 9/11 coverage

September 6, 2011

Posted by Chris Roush

Roy J. Harris Jr. writes on the Poynter site on Tuesday about how The Wall Street Journal‘s coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks won it a Pulitzer Prize in 2001.

Harris writes, “Pensiero, who also was an expert in the production system, had been helping to establish a training center at the parent company’s South Brunswick, N.J., offices, about 50 miles southwest of lower Manhattan. A small backup newsroom recently had been set up there, though it was never envisioned as a replacement for the main office, and Pensiero wasn’t sure if it was ready to operate on any scale.

“He told Steiger that the training center might work if editors and graphic artists could get there quickly and technicians could link it with other Journal operations. At Steiger’s direction, Pensiero used the still-working phones to line things up with South Brunswick.

“The two editors felt the impact on the second tower at 9:03 a.m. – this time shaking the Journal newsroom violently – and it became clear that a plane had caused it. Steiger headed down to the street to advise arriving staffers to head for South Brunswick, and asked Pensiero to compose an email to top editors and the Washington bureau. Pensiero hit the send button at 9:23, just as a security guard showed up to press him to evacuate.

“Pensiero found his way to a ferry, which turned out to be the last one across the Hudson, and watched the twin towers collapse behind him. When he arrived at the South Brunswick office just before noon, he determined that the paper had a good chance of being produced there and was encouraged by the number of personnel assembling in the office. Still, ‘I had no idea where Paul Steiger was, let alone the other top editors of the paper.'”

Read more here.

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