The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

Newsletter Signup

Get our news delivered straight to your inbox every week.

* indicates required

Journalism professor recounts 9/11 newsroom experience

Appalachian State University journalism professor Lynette Holman was working in a newsroom on Sept. 11, 2001.

Holman, who was the business page designer for The Virginian-Pilot at the time, woke up that morning to care for her then-13-month-old daughter when she saw news about the attacks on a spanish television channel she happened to switch to, which showed the fire from where the first plane hit.

“I remember I called my boss – the news editor at the time, Paul Nelson – and asking him if he wanted me to come in early,” Holman said.

Holman said the newsroom was very business-like and that the entire team was in the room at the time.

“I was there until midnight,” Holman said. “We had a first run at 10 p.m., another at midnight, and another run at 1 a.m.”

The Virginian-Pilot is based in Norfolk, Virginia – a major military town.

“Especially as a military town it was really important to approach that angle,” Holman said. “It had a great impact on the military folks in town being called to action and sent abroad.”

Holman said the situation was stressful but that it felt that she was in touch with the mission of a journalist.

“It felt like we were doing an important task for our society and our community,” Holman said.

That year The Virginian-Pilot won a “World’s Best Designed” newspaper award from the Society for News Design, the same year the editors chose to run a photo of a person jumping from one of the towers in a 9/11 issue.

“We got a lot of phone calls about that,” Holman said. “The fact that people were making this choice to jump as opposed to die in the fire, everybody was talking about how horrible that was.”

Holman said that a lot of images of bodies and carnage that were the result of the attacks did not come over the wire and only surfaced later over the Internet.

The paper ran local content about the attack’s effects on the area as well as a story on the ships sent from the naval base in Norfolk to disaster areas.

Holman said the scene in the newsroom was very focused.

“There was a lot of stress and a lot of energy, but it was very professional,” Holman said.  “There’s an energy like no other in a newsroom when something important happens, and when that happens you really feel like part of a greater mission.”

Story: Carl Blankenship, News Reporter

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Appalachian
$1500
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

We hope you appreciate this article! Before you move on, our student staff wanted to ask if you would consider supporting The Appalachian's award-winning journalism. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary of The Appalachian in 2024!

We receive funding from the university, which helps us to compensate our students for the work they do for The Appalachian. However, the bulk of our operational expenses — from printing and website hosting to training and entering our work into competitions — is dependent upon advertising revenue and donations. We cannot exist without the financial and educational support of our fellow departments on campus, our local and regional businesses, and donations of money and time from alumni, parents, subscribers and friends.

Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest, both on campus and within the community. From anywhere in the world, readers can access our paywall-free journalism, through our website, through our email newsletter, and through our social media channels. Our supporters help to keep us editorially independent, user-friendly, and accessible to everyone.

If you can, please consider supporting us with a financial gift from $10. We appreciate your consideration and support of student journalism at Appalachian State University. If you prefer to make a tax-deductible donation, or if you would prefer to make a recurring monthly gift, please give to The Appalachian Student News Fund through the university here: https://securelb.imodules.com/s/1727/cg20/form.aspx?sid=1727&gid=2&pgid=392&cid=1011&dids=418.15&bledit=1&sort=1.

Donate to The Appalachian
$1500
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Appalachian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *