How The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered a winter storm

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution created a special edition in the wake of a winter storm that crippled Atlanta.

The front page of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s special edition on Thursday, January 30.

A small — but crippling — amount of snow and ice began accumulating in Atlanta on Tuesday, January 28, resulting in massive gridlock on city streets and three major highways. One baby girl was born as her parents were stuck on I-285 Tuesday night, and as of Wednesday evening over 2,000 cars remained abandoned throughout the city.

Melissa Angle, projects editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shared the story behind the paper’s special edition, which published Thursday.

(Click any of the images for a larger view.)

Tuesday afternoon, we lined up at the windows of the 6th floor newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to watch it “snow.” I had to squint for about 30 seconds to see the first flake. Then it really started falling.

The excitement from a rare Southern snow quickly faded as the traffic, ice and response spiraled out of control. Reporters and editors left the AJC in what looked to be heavy rush-hour traffic and spent five, 10, even 20 hours stranded in their cars on gridlocked icy roads with no way out. Others spent the night on the newsroom floor.

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Delivery of the printed paper was limited Wednesday morning, so the paywall on MyAJC.com and our digital and iPad editions was lifted. The idea for a digital-only special section was driven by photos and snippets of the social conversation. It will also appear in the printed Sunday AJC.

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Like any breaking news event, it was a team effort. We decided to divide and conquer since most of our staff and Newspaper Shared Services (design and copy desks for Cox newspapers) were focused on daily production and early deadlines. Managing Editor Mark Waligore, Sunday A1 Editor Sandra Brown and Assistant Managing Editor Ken Foskett started brainstorming content and building a lineup. Photo Editor Bita Honarvar sifted through the hundreds of incredible images by AJC photographers, and I started to sketch how it would all come together.

And while we were building the special section, Daily A1 Editor Tracy Brown, Night Editor Ron Sirmans and Newspaper Shared Services designer Justin Beckett were hard at work producing the impressive Wednesday and Thursday printed editions.

Coverage is also available for users on iPad, Android and Kindle devices, as well as an e-edition for those on a desktop or laptop.