11:50: Upon leaving class, immediately called Nicole Comparato, the University editor. Told her I was going to hurry to South Building to see if I could talk to Thorp. She was going to follow close behind. Both Nicole and I have interviewed Thorp many, many times so I was holding out hope for the first official confirmation. I raced over to South Building where I talked to Thorp’s secretary, who said he was in a meeting, and didn’t know when he’d be out. I left a note for him and headed to the newsroom.
Noon: Got a call on my cellphone from Nancy Davis in South Building who said they had just sent out a release.
12:06 p.m.: The release is out and The Daily Tar Heel is the first news organization to tweet that UNC has confirmed Thorp is stepping down.
12:15: After posting a brief online story with an excerpt of the press release, my attention turns to the rest of the day. Nicole is in South Building, waiting outside Thorp’s office. She soon is told that she will get the first interview with Thorp. Media are already setting up next to the Old Well and outside South Building.
12:30: With the story under control, I and director of visuals Ariana Rodriguez-Gitler are working on getting a photographer to get a few shots of Thorp for Tuesday’s front page. Assistant photo editor Chris Conway will head down there at 12:50 after his class. After Nicole gets done with her interview, Chris gets a few shots of Thorp in his office. They’re OK, but they don’t have the tone needed for the story (it’s highly posed, he’s smiling).
1:00: We want photos of Thorp leaving South Building. Photo editor Katie Sweeney and Chris, who’s still at South Building, arrange a schedule where two photographers will be staking out the chancellor at all times in hour-long shifts until sunset. With this arrangement, we’re confident we’ll get something usable.
1:15: Nicole is back in the office adding some quotes to the initial story we posted online. Erica Perel, the newsroom adviser, Kevin Uhrmacher, the design and graphics editor, and I are already starting to think about what the next day’s front could look like. We’re printing off some examples of good breaking news front pages from around the nation. Meanwhile, director of enterprise Sarah Glen is posting a Storify of community reaction.
1:30: Nicole, Erica and I write out a source list for the long story on Thorp stepping down. It ends up being about 30 people. Nicole and assistant University editors Emily Overcarsh and Liz Crampton start making the calls. Meanwhile, we’ve consolidated some of the planned ads on one page so we can have a blank page just for Thorp. Kevin and I are discussing what features we want on that page — we’re thinking a timeline of Thorp’s career, the text of Nicole’s original interview and man-on-the-street interviews. I’ve started making a list of possible headlines.
2:30: Director of visuals Allie Russell and Katie start pulling file art just in case the photos at South Building don’t come through. The big story is still being worked on. I make sure Opinion editor Chelsea Phipps is planning a forward-looking editorial about Thorp stepping down. Also make sure a Thorp-related cartoon is in the works.
3:30: Daily budget meeting, where we hammer out the specifics of the paper. Thorp dominates the front and pages 4 and 5.
4:30: Assistant University editor Katie Quine runs out to the Pit to do man-on-the-street interviews about Thorp stepping down for page 5.
4:45: Realizing that a large quantity of our file photos are on loan to Wilson Library, Katie Sweeney runs out to Wilson before it closes at 5 to get them back for the extra art we want on page 5.
5:15: Photographers Erin Hull and Katie Bailey get back from South Building, where they managed to get some photos of Thorp walking to his car. It’s a huge relief, and the shot from behind ended up being a great anchor for the front page.
5:30: To fill some extra space on page 4, City editor Chelsey Dulaney steps in to write a story about town leaders’ reactions to Thorp stepping down.
6-11: Managing editor Elise Young and I read through the rest of the stories that are going in the paper. Meanwhile, I’m keeping tabs on the timeline on page 5 and helping Chelsea polish the lead editorial.
11:15: Start editing Nicole’s 40-inch story. That’s about 1,200 words. Our deadline is 12:30, so we’re tight on time. For a story this size, checking all the facts alone takes about 20 minutes. That combined with structural changes and minor tweaks ends up taking about an hour.
12:15 a.m.: With all the non-Thorp pages done, Elise and I comb through the small stuff on pages 1, 4 and 5 before sending them to the Copy desk to do the same.
12:45: We send the paper to the printer. It’s the first time we’ve missed our 12:30 deadline all year but we were prepared for it. For a paper like this, we’re willing to be a few minutes late to make sure all the facts are right and there are no typos or mistakes. The online desk organizes the website, and the front page is anchored by a great interactive timeline of Thorp’s career by Sarah Glen.
1:00: Exhausted, I send an email to one of my professors, profusely apologizing for my day’s absence. Maybe he’ll understand.