When I think about Thursday, one word comes to mind: teamwork.
One thing I’ve been trying to stress to our photographers and staffers this semester is that we’re all cogs in a big newsroom machine. We all have a role to play, people to report to, work to produce…we depend on the efforts of others to help us do our best work, and others are depending on us so they can do what they need to do. When we all play our parts, we can do some quality journalism that really serves our community well.
Thursday had a lot going on. There was a memorial and procession for a firefighter who died in the line of duty last week. There was the start of a huge international documentary film festival, and a late-night basketball game.
Our usual staff on a Thursday is three photographers, two photo editors, the Director of Photography and an assistant DP. That’s 7 people on a normal day. But Thursday we had probably twice that number, all working in unison to produce some quality work.
Photo editors and staff photographers not on duty came in to help out. Our team produced live photo galleries of the procession and memorial. Our team of photographers helped cover the procession route so we could gamble by putting a photographer on a fire truck (reminiscent of Paul Fusco’s 1968 photos from RFK’s Funeral Train). Without that team, we would’t have been able to attempt that sort of coverage. Our team worked together to collect audio, video and stills throughout the day, then a team spent a few hours editing a video, which was touching and powerful and really resonated with the community we try to serve (a normal Missourian video might get 100 views. This one from the memorial has been viewed more than 11,000 times, and counting…)
Our teamwork in the morning helped those of us on the nightside do our work. When the morning folks left in the afternoon, they didn’t leave any tasks undone for us to finish. That kind of teamwork meant we could focus on putting out the print edition, and covering the nighttime events. It may sound small, but having things buttoned up on the day side was big. It was one less thing to have to manage throughout the evening. Any night in the newsroom is an exercise in hitting a handful of moving targets, and it was because of our team that we had fewer balls to juggle (to mix metaphors) at night.
On the nightside, our team worked really smoothly. Having colleagues you can trust to do their work is so huge. I knew I could trust Alex, the photo editor, to handle the incoming photos from the film festival and the basketball games. I knew I could trust Peter to deliver on a multimedia piece from the film fest. That freed me up to work with our design team to produce a print edition that would be meaningful for our community. The bad thing about having such talented teammates working on the multimedia from the memorial in the afternoon, and knocking it out of the park, was that they set the bar…our executive editor challenged us to try to produce something as effective as the video, but in print. No pressure there…
All in all, looking back at what our team accomplished on Thursday, I’m very grateful. We set out to do the best journalism we could, to serve our community who was mourning a fallen firefighter. Based on the feedback we’ve received, we did so in a tasteful, respectful, touching, professional manner, and that’s a good feeling.
It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when we all work together.
And what’s more, it’s amazing what knowing you have a competent, professional, knowledgeable, hardworking team allows you to attempt, and execute.
The Last Alarm from Columbia Missourian on Vimeo.