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Panpa Bulletin : June 2006
June 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 19 bert, Michael Wilkins, and Gail Barnsley were in the of- fice by 5.30am to produce the edition, with special report- ing from McIllveen and other group journalists. A three-man picture desk of Anthony Moran, John Grainer and Andrew Darby handled the images. The bus booked to take the Sydney budget team to Canberra had been booked for 8am. Imaging, pre-press and pro- duction staff who had been alerted to the possibility also were in readiness. Herbert, the Telegraph's as- sistant editor, news layout, said the operation went like a dream. "The photographers sent the best pictures first - and they were great," Herbert said. The bus booked to take the Sydney budget team to Canberra was delayed for 45 minutes while Penberthy, Her- bert and others bound for the national capital signed off on the special edition pages to be transmitted to Chullora where a team had a press ready to roll. Of the 25,000 copy print run, 23,000 were sold. Because of their later dead- lines, News Limited's Sydney and Melbourne commuter pa- per, mX, managed to scram- ble the rescue news into their entire print runs, which were stepped up considerably. At the Herald Sun, a team led by chief of staff Damon John- ston had been in the office to handle drop-ins until 3.30am. Staff designated to monitor the rescue progress contacted edi- tor Peter Blunden, who then called in an editorial team of Ken Burrowes, Geoff McGow- an, Shane Burke, John Knee- bone and Ian Baker to pro- duce the special edition. It was cleared 20 minutes ahead of the production deadline at 9.40am. Then, for Blunden and others, it was off to Canberra. The Herald Sun's special edition run of 12,000, circu- lated in the CBD and selected shopping centres, was a sell- out. Copies of the special edi- tion, headlined Free at Last, produced by Fairfax's Mel- bourne broadsheet, The Age, and distributed to 50 top-sell- ing newsagents and 400 retail outlets, were flown to Tasma- nian on a charter flight. The Beaconsfield supply included a special delivery to the pub. "It was a fantastic effort involving numerous people from 4am onwards when Gary Tippet rang me with the news that the miners would be out before 6am," editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan said in a mes- sage to staff. "Most people arrived here in the dark with the challenge of quickly deciding story plans, layouts, design and deadline as well as getting the presses ready at Tullamarine. "It was an exciting time and what newspapers do best - in print and online. Our cover- age, in print and online, since the story broke has been out- standing." As well as Tippet, Jaspan thanked the other Beacons- field team members, Simon Mann, Andrew Darby, Ben Doherty, Ben Cubby, Jason South and Wayne Taylor. In Melbourne, the team acknowledged included Sat- urday editor Steve Foley, Leigh Hennigham (picto- rial), Simon Johanson (on- line), Andrew Webster (on- line), Craig Dixon (online), Grant Titmus (operations, Tullamarine), Brendan Mc- Cullough (imaging), Damien Gray (edition control), Rod Wiederman (editorial), Mat- thew Knight and Steve Jones (circulation) and Chris Mon- aghan and his printing team at Tullamarine. Plans are in hand to present framed copies of The Age's front page to a number of people in Beaconsfield - and one for display in the pub. As with most major stories, the service provided by Aus- tralian Associated Press on the trapped miners and on the death of the third miner, Larry Knight, who died, was always professional. AAP Head of News and Fi- nance, Stuart Parker told the PANPA Bulletin that as an agency, AAP had to be on the ball for 24 hours a day, ready to file at any time. Although the rescue turned into a grueling marathon for its re- porters and photographers, they all insisted on staying on it because they wanted to see it through to the end. The agency's Hobart cor- respondent, Robyn Grace had headed for Beaconsfield as soon she was alerted late on Tuesday, April 25, and re- mained there to cover the sto- ry for the next seven days. On her first day Grace filed a nightlead and local colour about the seismic event which triggered the collapse - just one of the handful of jour- nalists there for the first few days, working very long hours and filing regular reports with the help of AAP's Melbourne bureau and the main news desk in Sydney, which moni- tored TV coverage. "We brought in a local stringer photographer Dale Cumming to work with Robyn and he stayed on the job pret- ty much all the way through," said Parker. "Robyn had to abandon plans to cover the Port Arthur memorial on April 28, which was staffed by someone sent from Melbourne. "In those first three or four days AAP filed backgrounders on the history of the mine and the threat to its future, and ac- counts by miners of past safety concerns. "Robyn had a holiday flight booked out of Tasmania for May 3 and so we sent in back-up on Sunday - the day the story changed. Jane Bunce arrived on the Sunday just in time to help Robyn cover the news that Rus- sell and Webb were alive. They both did a terrific job that night, filing news and colour on the re- action of the men's families and the town in general, while Mel- bourne and Sydney news desks helped cover breaking news off TV.The news of that Sunday night demanded an escalation of coverage and AAP, like the TV networks and newspapers, rushed extra staff to Beacons- field. AAP's Melbourne's Greg Rule arrived on Tuesday morn- ing to relieve an exhausted Grace, and AAP Melbourne photographer Julian Smith flew in to take over the main photo coverage. Greg Rule, Jane Bunce and Julian Smith stayed on the sto- ry, effectively round the clock, until after well after Russell and Webb were rescued on May 9. AAP quickly joined the Win- nebago club, parking its camp- ervan just outside the mine gates. From there the team could keep an eye on the com- ings and goings. Staff took it in shifts, with Bunce spending most nights in the Winnebago while Rule and Smith occupied two of the town's few hotel beds. Rule nor- mally took over from Bunce be- tween 4am and 5am, when she would head off to the hotel for a better sleep. Because of the immense in- terest and the constant sense of expectation about the men's rescue, AAP had to file not only early each morning, either from the mine or off TV, but also right through the day to late at night. "One big advantage of having all the networks there was their thirst for talent to fill programs," said Parker. "Even if Bill Shorten didn't do a doorstop, he'd turn up on TV sooner or later." To meet the exceptional de- mand for updates, AAP had to file regularly throughout each day before wrapping the story at the end of each day. On top of that, AAP staff on the ground contributed feature and scene pieces. Parker said the last two days before Russell and Webb emerged were especially dif- ficult for his staff. Richard Carleton's death had cast a pall and the expected timing of the rescue kept being put back. Although exhausted, Rule, Bunce and Smith refused of- fers to be relieved, saying they wanted to be there for the finish. The day of the rescue was huge, with AAP having to cov- er the funeral of Larry Knight as well as the reaction to the men's release. Again, Sydney and Melbourne journalists contributed to the final file. The same day, AAP sent Melbourne journalist Danny Rose to cover the aftermath of the rescue, and relieve exhausted staff.