Staffers at the University of Missouri’s independent student newspaper had to stop working on their Wednesday edition last night after someone phoned in a bomb threat to the Student Center, where the newsroom is located.
“We were roughly two hours into our production night when the Student Center was evacuated,” says Katie Pohlman, editor-in-chief of The Maneater. (The threat was called in at 7 p.m.)
The staff hoped to put the paper together outside of the newsroom.
We tossed around the idea of going to the Journalism School and working from there – we can work on our server as long as we’re connected to the school’s wireless – but we realized that most, if not all, of our InDesign pages were still pulled up on computers in the newsroom and therefore we couldn’t work on them. We also hadn’t dropped any photos onto the server and the photo editor’s computer was still in the newsroom, so we really couldn’t do much production work.
Pohlman warned her production team and printer that the weekly Maneater might have to come out a day late.
“I knew that if we could get back into the office anytime before midnight, when the Student Center locks, we would produce a paper with this [bomb threat] story as the main article,” the editor says.
Meanwhile, the student journalists set up a temporary newsroom of sorts “on a portion of grass, kitty-corner from the Student Center” and did their reporting on Twitter.
“We also only had one camera on hand so the photographer had to run around a five-block area taking photos of all the aspects of the incident,” says Pohlman. “We had to move around a bit as the police widened the perimeter so there was a lot of picking up and moving ourselves, our laptops and our temporary workspace down the street a little further.”
Finally, at about 10 p.m., The Maneater crew was allowed back into the newsroom.
It was crunch time. My production manager called on other members of our editorial board who had gone home already for design help. Every one was designing pages, reading stories and writing cutlines. Our social media editor and my managing editor came back to the newsroom to help the production process.
There were seven of us designing pages, when usually only three or four do. We all had adrenaline rushes and worked nonstop (usually our production nights are a little bit more casual with breaks to run up to the convenience store for snacks). Our production nights usually last from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the earliest, but, even with a two-hour delay last night, we got out at 2 a.m.
It was our fastest production night this year and we produced a 20-page paper.