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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