Breaking news

Jeff Genung

When you see newsrooms portrayed in the movies or on television, it’s always a fast-paced, high-stress, “Stop the presses!” kind of atmosphere. Reality is something different. While there’s plenty of deadline pressure stress to go around in The Evening Sun newsroom, it’s a fairly rare occurrence when “breaking news” demands everyone’s attention.

Such was the case Thursday morning, when shortly after that day’s edition had gone to press I received a call tipping me off about the appellate court’s decision reversing the conviction in the Peter Wlasiuk murder trial. It was one of those rare “oh my God” moments that really get the news-junkie adrenaline pumping.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most breaking news, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Thursday’s paper was already rolling off the presses, and I was almost out the door, having planned half a day off to visit the State Fair in Syracuse. Faced with a newsroom teeming with cub reporters, I considered canceling my plans and walking them step by step through what is the beginning of one of the year’s biggest stories. Instead, I managed to wrestle down my control-freak demons and left anyway, albeit an hour later after I fired off as many instructions as I could think of, given the time.

I’m happy to say I made the right decision. Newbies Tyler Murphy and Jessica Lewis jumped at the chance to delve into an exciting story, and handled it admirably (I’m trying not to sound too much like a proud parent here, as they already think I’m older than dirt).

My hat’s off as well to web designer Craig Ballinger, who built in a template I could use for breaking news. When I saw that in the system, I at first thought, “yeah, right.” But as we shift our mindset more to the 24-hour Internet news model, it makes more and more sense to break stories as they happen. I’m proud to say we were the very first new outlet to report the Wlasiuk story, shortly before noon Thursday. Without this here website, The Evening Sun would have been that last to report the story, in our print edition Friday.

While I still have yet to yell, “Stop the presses!” at least now I can yell, “Update the website!”