I completed a three-day intensive newsroom orientation last week, in which the new faces at the Times are trained on policies, practices, and quirks of the paper. It’s an onboarding procedure the likes of which I’ve never gone through in my career, and I think it’s a credit to the organization that they care so much about its traditions and culture to invest so much time and energy welcoming new people.

In addition to the seminars on sourcing, ethics and background, it was especially interesting to meet all of the Desk Editors and learn how they run their teams both online and in print. One-by-one, they filed in from National, Style, Travel, Foreign, the Magazines… it was a whirlwind 3 days.


Deadly Rampage at Virginia Tech, updated April 23, 2007

One of the most interesting half-hours was presented by Archie Tse, a Graphics editor. Archie explained how the Times Graphics Desk is really unique among news organizations, in that they go out and do reporting before sitting down at their computer.

When you consider that newspapers are cutting back on coverage of everything these days, this is remarkable.

And the results speak for themselves:

Earlier this year the Graphics Director, Steve Duenes, did a Q&A on, where he describes how his team members so their reporting:

Last November in Brooklyn, a young man was shot by police who said they believed he had a gun. It turned out that he had been holding a hairbrush. The next day, we knew a diagram of the location would be important, so Graham Roberts went out to the scene to make some sketches and take pictures. While he was there, another graphics editor in the office started to report some of the details that would let us reconstruct the event. In the end, Al Baker, a metro police reporter and frequent graphics collaborator, got ahold of police drawings that were extremely helpful. Graham came back to the office and created the diagram that appeared with this story.

It’s truly a multidisciplinary team – cartographers, reporters, 3-D modelers, programmers, designers. And another example of the uniqueness of the Times, not only as a newspaper but also more generally as an online news and information provider.

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