OLD Media Moves

Virginian-Pilot all over Ford plant closing story

April 23, 2006

Public editor Marvin Lake notes in a Sunday column that the Virginian-Pilot’s coverage of the announced closing of a Ford plant in its circulation area was strong on April 14.

Still, business editor Bill Choyke questioned whether the paper could have gotten the story before it was officially announced.

Bill ChoykeLake writes, “The newsroom leaders and others quickly huddled again to begin planning coverage, with business editor Bill Choyke taking the lead. The story planning would evolve throughout the day. Indeed, one editor wondered aloud: ‘Are we doing too much? Do we need to leave something?’

“No way, Choyke replied. ‘I believe in the scorched earth policy. You don’t leave anything for anybody else.’

“In the end, numerous reporters ended up with bylines or taglines – meaning they’d assisted in the reporting – in the next day’s paper. Add to that some emotion-grabbing photography, a fascinating historic and graphic timeline and a front-page design that captured the various elements of the story in big words and photography.

“Choyke said that he has told his business reporters, ‘while we’re patting ourselves on the back, don’t forget to do the basics.’

“Indeed, Choyke has wondered (‘It’s not a criticism; it’s just a question you ask,’ says Finley) whether The Pilot could have learned before April 13 that Ford was seriously considering closing the 81-year-old plant.

“‘We still have to ask ourselves,’ Choyke said, ‘what could we have done better?'”

Read the rest of the details on how the paper’s coverage came together here.

Choyke is a member of the SABEW education committee that sponsors this blog.

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