Five days Boston will never forget

This afternoon, three Boston Globe designers, Digital Design Director Michael Workman, Workman, Layout Editor Robert Davis, and Gabriel Florit, data-visualization, recounted the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings from last April through their presentation “Five Days in April.”

They divided their presentation into how The Boston Globe covered each day, including the aftermath of events.

1. Day 1 Attack

The Globe had a visuals plan for this marathon Monday, just as they did for every other marathon each year. Then, two bombs went off at the end of the marathon finish line, and their whole plan changed. Photographers were now in a “war zone,’ according to Davis. Many of the photos their staff had taken were too graphic to run in print. They used discretion when deciding what to print the first day of the bombings. Workman also commented on how the layout of both their websites chagned, bostonglobe.com and boston.com. He worked with stronger headlines, moving ads around the webpage and focusing boston.com on social interaction. The sites also took on a newspaper feel, in terms of how they looked, Workman said.

2. Day 2 and 3 Inquiry

As the investigation began, Florit created interactive infographics on the second and third day of the bombing event. His first was of how a marathon tent turned into a triage center. The second involved community journalism. He created a map that allowed users to tell their story about where they were when the bombs went off and help victims of the bombing by offering places to stay. Workman explained the graphics were “giving people an outlet for the emotions they are feeling.”

3. Day 4 Mayhem

This day “began craziest 48 hours in Boston’s history,” Davis said. A shootout occurred in the early hours of the morning, forcing Davis to re-layout a front page for the third edition of the paper. The graphics staff also reported on and created a graphic of the makings of the bomb that went off on the first day.

4. Day 5 Manhunt

Throughout the last day, Workman kept the website fresh, with lots of photos and headlines changed multiples times throughout the day, keeping readers updated. There were “35 million page views between the two sites, seven times what normal traffic is,” Workman said. In print, the headline read “Nightmare’s end” after the manhunt, reassuring the people of Boston.

5. Beyond the finish line

The Boston Globe covered legal proceedings, memorials and survivors after the five days were over. There was also a large print story giving a coherent explanation and setting the record straight on what happened in those five days.  It was a 14,000 word story that spanned eight pages. Florit created an interactive online version to go with the print product.