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3 A1 Headlines, 3 Alerts, 3 Hours: How #MeToo Makes News

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3 A1 Headlines, 3 Alerts, 3 Hours: How #MeToo Makes News

The night was supposed to belong to the Met Gala. Then the Schneiderman story broke.

By Lela Moore

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The evolution of A1 on May 7 for the print paper of May 8.CreditThe New York Times

Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, resigned last Monday night hours after The New Yorker published allegations by four women that he had physically assaulted them.

When the news broke, The New York Times newsroom was preparing for another kind of evening altogether, one focused on the couture costumes at the Met Gala, taking place 40 blocks uptown. But in just over three hours, The New Yorker’s story and the news from Albany sent The Times’s home page and its print front page through three headlines and three push alerts sent to readers’ phones.

In quick succession, we shifted from the initial allegations to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reaction to Mr. Schneiderman’s ultimate resignation and the announcement of an investigation by Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

Page views for our story totaled 1.4 million.

How did the night unfold? We spoke with three people who were on the night news desk that evening: Karen Workman, a deputy news editor, who led the digital team; Amy Kelsey, a deputy director of news design, who led the print team; and Steve Kenny, the senior night editor who oversaw the entire operation. From their recollections, a timeline emerged.

6:45 p.m.

KAREN WORKMAN The night was supposed to belong to the Met Gala, and we were prepared. Our Styles desk was rapidly updating a slide show. Alert language had been worked out. Everything was in place and we were methodically tackling the rest of our lineup when the deputy Metro editor Dean Chang came to the news desk and turned our night, and our home screens, upside down.

6:50 p.m.

STEVE KENNY The New Yorker published its story on Eric Schneiderman and the physical abuse accusations made by four women. You could hear the reaction as people saw the tweets and then read the article around the newsroom. Dean Chang and a team of six Metro reporters (Danny Hakim, Vivian Wang, Ellen Gabler, Shane Goldmacher, Jesse McKinley and Willie Rashbaum) immediately went to work under the supervision of one of the newsroom’s top editors.

7:36 p.m.

KENNY We had a story up.

WORKMAN Within five minutes, the home page had been republished with the news. The speed with which we were able to move was really thanks to our team of editors, on the Metro desk and the news desk, knowing all the details that needed assembling (typefit a headline? fact-check that alert language?) and working feverishly in the moments before publishing to get all the pieces ready and polished.

7:38 p.m.

KENNY A push alert was sent: “Four women are said to have accused New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, of assault. He had long cast himself as a champion of women.”

8 p.m.

AMY KELSEY The Print Hub learned that we would have a Schneiderman story in time for print​, with a 9 o’clock deadline for the First National edition. (That’s the paper that goes out to presses around the country.) If we had any hope of making that deadline, we would have to make our changes quickly:

The Page One paginator has to move the old story off the page, make design changes and then put the new story on A1, while coordinating with other designers working on the jump pages.

The Metro designer and editor scrambled to rearrange the section, and the photo editor found a photo for the jump page.

Of course, ​this breaking news pushed another story off A1, so the designer working on the ​National pages had to rework that story’s jump page to accommodate.

Many of these design changes required new headlines, captions and even trims to the stories — more work for the editors as the deadline loomed.

KENNY The First National headline: 4 Women Say / Schneiderman / Abused Them

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The first pass at getting the Schneiderman story into print placed it below the fold with the headline, “4 Women Say Schneiderman Abused Them.”CreditThe New York Times

WORKMAN That was just the beginning. We sent two more alerts that night and rapidly moved the story up the page until it spanned the very top.

KENNY The digital crew that Karen led — the assistant editor Lisa Cowan and the staff editor Justin O’Neill in New York and the senior staff editor Sarah Anderson in Hong Kong — wrote and workshopped the alerts with the Metro senior staff editor Tom Wright-Piersanti, redrew the platforms four times, and wrote and rewrote headlines and summaries.

8:30 p.m.

KENNY Governor Cuomo called for the attorney general’s resignation. We updated and alerted.

9:33 p.m.

KENNY Push alert sent: “The allegations of assault against New York’s attorney general immediately drew calls for his resignation, including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”

9:50 p.m.

KENNY Schneiderman resigned and we updated again.

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The homepage was updated again after Mr. Schneiderman resigned.CreditThe New York Times

9:53 p.m.

KENNY The alert went out: “New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has resigned hours after multiple women accused him of being physically abusive.” You can see how fast the story changed. It was only 20 minutes between the second and third alerts. Our deputy politics editor, Erin McCann, tweeted a screengrab of the news alerts.

10:45 p.m.

KENNY In print, Amy redrew the entire front. She was able to do that for the First City edition, and the Print Hub went to work rewriting every headline on the page.

The First City headline: REPORTS OF ABUSE / SPUR RESIGNATION / OF SCHNEIDERMAN / Four Women Say Attorney General / of New York Assaulted Them

Dean’s team continued to report and update between print editions. Tom Wright-Piersanti teamed with Dean on the edits.

The Second Edition headline, for both national and city: REPORTS OF ABUSE / SPUR RESIGNATION / OF SCHNEIDERMAN / Women Say New York Attorney General / Struck and Choked Them

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Reporters and editors continued to update the front page before the Second Edition deadline at 11:00 p.m.CreditThe New York Times

Claudio Cabrera, the deputy off-platform director in charge of search-engine optimization, was instrumental in helping to craft headlines that drew traffic to the site, updating and freshening them into the wee hours.

Adding to the Schneiderman package was Matt Stevens, a reporter on our Express desk, who put together “Who Is Eric Schneiderman?” (the assistant masthead editor Alison Mitchell’s idea). It was a big hit, with 40 percent of the audience finding it through internet searches.

In Hong Kong, the reporter Austin Ramzy aggregated Mr. Schneiderman’s #MeToo comments and actions. (After our Harvey Weinstein investigation, Mr. Schneiderman sued Mr. Weinstein, his brother and their company.)

11:27 p.m.

KENNY The last changes went online.

12:24 a.m.

KENNY Cyrus Vance Jr. announced an investigation. Matt Stevens and the night Express editor Pete Khoury fielded the late-late update.

Keep up with Times Insider stories on Twitter, via the Reader Center: @ReaderCenter.

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