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How the Evening Standard stayed on top of the London bombings | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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How the Evening Standard stayed on top of the London bombings

How the Evening Standard stayed on top of the London bombings

How the Evening Standard stayed on top of the London bombings

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The July 7 London bombings happened early enough in the morning so that most newspapers could plan how they would overcome logistical problems, and deliver their next editions for the next day.

But that was not the case for the London Evening Standard, where the first edition aims to be at newsstands midday. Despite enormous difficulties working in the city as it reacted to the attacks, the

Standard got the story out ahead of other media outlets.

Much of that is from the efforts of Dick Murray, the Standard”s veteran transport correspondent. He was likely the first journalist to hear about the bomb that exploded on a subway train near Aldgate station,in East London.

At around 8:50 am Mr. Murray was returning to the Standard”s offices from an earlier assignment when one of his contacts telephoned. The caller had been on the train just in front of the one targeted at Aldgate station.

&#34He phoned me as he was running from the station. He reported there had been a loud bang and everyone was fleeing the station. I could hear him running,&#34 Mr. Murray told the Guardian newspaper.

The reporter immediately contacted the Standard”s news desk and hurried to the paper”s office. He arrived just as the morning editorial meeting was starting and told his colleagues there had been a major incident.

He then gathered more details from another one of his contacts.

A week after the bombings, managing editor Doug Wills says the Standard is still &#34rather stretched&#34. But that day of the bombings, the task of reporting presented many more unique challenges.

Like most London newspapers, the Standard had earlier in the week sent its best regarded staff to cover the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

But in the rush to cover what was happening, other reporters who had not yet arrived at the office because of the city”s gridlocked transportation network were sent straight to the scenes of tube


Some first thought they would be covering a fairly routine power failure. When it became apparent, there had been a bombing mobile phone networks were swamped as Londoners attempted to contact their loved ones.

Journalists at explosion sites found it nearly impossible to use their mobile phones to stay in contact with the news desk. They had to listen to radios in people”s cars and in cafes to keep updated

on the overall situation, and then borrow use of landlines in local shops to file stories.

By 9:20 am that day – just half an hour after the subway trains were bombed – it was clear in the Standard newsroom that London had been hit by a major incident. Still, the managing editor brushes aside any congratulations for his paper”s efforts.

&#34More important than how the Standard handled the bombings, is the importance of them to London and the tragedy of those involved,&#34 Mr. Wills says.

But staff did react exceptionally quickly to get out the news. The Standard”s city edition was pulled back just after it had gone off electronically to the presses. Management decided to delay distribution and redo the paper.

&#34We were off stone by 9:45am with the headline that there were bombs on tubes. At 10:15am we were printing,&#34 Mr. Wills says.

The result was that when some passengers who were stranded underground emerged from tube stations, they could get the newspaper from local stands and find out what had happened.

Close contact with sources within the London police department was also essential for the Standard news desk to keep appraised of the tragedy”s scope.

Police also set up a special press office at a conference centre to cope with the massive volume of media inquiries. The police press bureau had sent out 26 e-mails by the end of the day.

Those messages provided quotes from police officers, updated casualty figures and information about transport around the city. Metropolitan police and Transport for London websites were cut down to a single page of information to cope with the volume of internet traffic.

Since the London tube was entirely shut down, many of the Standard”s vendors were not able to get papers. However, the paper still increased its print run by 100,000 to cope with demand.

Although much of London was impassable, circulation staff worked hard to get as many copies as possible to outlying areas. Moreover, while people avoided London traffic that day, one reporter from the Standard”s reporters felt heartened when they saw their newspaper”s trucks on deserted streets, delivering updated editions.