Minutes after Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon, visitors to The Lima News Facebook page and Twitter were surprised to see a preview of the front page of that morning’s newspaper already staring at them.
“Pick me up a copy if you get the chance,” Michael Sayre wrote to friends after seeing the screaming headline “National Champions” and the entire front page being taken up by a photo of an emotional Ezekiel Elliott being hoisted into the air by lineman Darryl Baldwin.
It truly was an image that summed up the night for OSU fans.
How that early morning coverage came about so quickly is a credit to today’s technology, lots of planning and plenty of teamwork. It involved the coordination of a sports reporter in Dallas, The Associated Press, a crew in Lima, and fellow workers nearly two hours away in Miamisburg, Ohio, where the page design work of The Lima News takes place with around 10 other newspapers owned by Civitas Media, our parent company.
The planning for the Ohio State coverage began the morning after OSU’s stunning win over Alabama. We knew that committing to such a front page would result in moving some page deadlines well past their normal 11 p.m. witching hour. Committing to such a bold design also would mean we do so whether the Buckeyes won or lost.
Thus an afternoon was spent talking about scenarios. If Ohio State won, it would be easier: a big headline saying “National champions” with a photo that fit the tone of the victory. An Ohio State loss would be much more difficult. We talked about possible headlines if they lost a close game, were slaughtered, or beaten on a controversial call.
On game night, Eziekel Ellis made it easy for us. By the third quarter, he was the person deserving of the cover photo. We had sent six or seven photos of him to our designer friends in Miamisburg, but nothing was wowing us. That’s when Tom Usher saw the AP photo of Zeke and Baldwin after a fourth-quarter touchdown (the AP had moved more than 300 photos by then).
We all knew that was “the shot.” Minutes before the game was over, the only thing the cover was waiting for was the final score.
Jim Naveau would end up writing more than 35 stories during those 11 days, including almost all of the content for a 12-page special section The Lima News supplied to 16 sister papers in Ohio. Not bad for a guy who has covered the Buckeyes for 23 years.
Graphic designer Jessica Lammers would design three specialty posters as well as graphics for the special section. Not bad for someone who has been with us for three months.
While we were able to methodically plan our Ohio State coverage all week long, such was not the case when our news reporting staff was literally awakened a little after 6 o’clock on a Saturday morning by the explosion at the Lima Refinery.
It was a matter of using the tools of today’s technology to react quickly to breaking news.
Reporter Craig Kelly was first on the scene followed by photo editor Craig Orosz. They contacted managing editor David Trinko, who from his home in Ottawa, started placing details of the explosion on limaohio.com within a half-hour. Kelly then used his cellphone to send video to Trinko, who had that as well as photos from Orosz on The Lima News Web site by 7 a.m.
At that point the newspaper’s “Facebook page lit up,” Trinko said, with people from all over Lima and as far away as Bluffton saying they felt the blast.
“It added great perspective to our stories,” Trinko said. “We also gladly received photos from readers, which we used along with those from our own photographers in a photo gallery on line.”
By noon, The Lima News had updated the story 17 times, thanks to efforts by reporter Megan Kennedy. Trinko was actually able to spend time helping coach his daughter’s basketball team. By day’s end, limaohio.com received nearly a quarter of a million page views.
A full recap of everything followed in Sunday’s newspaper.
Those 11 days were hectic and challenging for many on the news, sports and photo staffs. Each of them will tell you it was fun, though. There’s nothing like covering breaking news, especially with all the tools used today.
ROSES AND THORNS: I hear music coming from the rose garden.
Rose: To Dick McCobb, the piano man of Lima. He’s been making the ivory keys sing now for 75 years.
Rose: To John Merkle, John Upshaw, Lewis Shine and Da’Quan Knuckles. They were among seven Ohioans recognized Thursday during the 30th annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Columbus for their efforts to advance non-violent social change.
Rose: To Sgt. Andy Green, of the Lima Police Department, who did an excellent job serving as a public information officer during the aftermath of the Lima Refinery explosion.
Rose: To Deb Guyer, a learning disabilities teacher for 15 years at Shawnee Middle School. Her students love books, and she was able to secure a grant to purchase 34 of them, which the students helped pick out.
Rose: To Bill Hanz and Meghan Naumberg, who were named the adult and youth volunteers of the year by the Humane Society of Allen County. Hanz visits the center every day to walk the dogs and the 17-year-old Naumberg has volunteered time in nearly every facet of the operation.
Rose: To Putnam County sheriff deputies, who found a pig wandering in the area of Road Q and Road 12-Q and have helped provide it with shelter as they seek its owner.
Thorn: To Anthony D. Hutchins, 41, a former star athlete and Hall of Fame member at Lima Central Catholic. He faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced in March for selling drugs.
Thorn: To Lori Radcliff, also known as Lori Smith, an eighth-grade teacher at Ottawa-Glandorf schools. During the past two years, she has been involved in two incidents of causing bodily harm to a student while disciplining them. The second incident came after the school paid nearly $1,000 to send her to leadership and student relations training.
PARTING SHOT: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.