Headlines past deadline: Sago Mine disaster
A week of front pages and how editors explained their coverage to readers.
Before and after front pages

Here you'll find a rich resource of information on how newspapers covered the tragedy in Sago, W.Va. The folder includes two PowerPoints that showcase the front pages of more than 100 newspapers across eight days. The PowerPoints (40 MB each) are identical except that one is automated, running about 25 minutes. (Click here for the automated version, here for the manual version.) The coverage, from Tuesday, Jan. 3, to Tuesday, Jan. 10, is annotated with explanations of how some papers reacted to the news early Wednesday morning (or late Tuesday night, depending on your time zone) that early reports of the trapped miners being found alive were heartbreakingly wrong.

Along with the PowerPoint presentations are more than 50 stories, at the bottom of this page, written by newspapers to their readers explaining how many of them had the story wrong in their Wednesday editions. A New York Times overview also is included.

A “Read Me” file further explains the PowerPoint presentation. If the full presentation is too long for use in your classes or workshops, you may either delete some slides from the automatic package or use the manual version to show selected portions. Finally, a PDF of the PowerPoint text slides is available.

If you'd like to download the complete package, you can pull down either a zipped file for PC or a Stuffit file for Mac by going to this address (Explorer preferred):


You'll find two files there:

  • SagoPages.zip (PC)
  • SagoPages.sea (Mac)

    Just drag whichever one you want to your desktop. When you uncompress it, you'll have a folder called SagoPages containing all of the files posted on EditTeach.org.

    The login and password for the FTP site are built into the address string. Despite that, Mac users - and, potentially, others - may find themselves facing a dialogue box demanding credentials. If that happens, the information you need is:

  • Login: rjguest
  • Password: x27rj

    The total download for the PC version is about 84 megabytes; for the Mac, about 106 megabytes. It's compressed only slightly, so that's also about how much space will be consumed on your system.

    The entire package was created by Randy Jessee, director of newsroom technology at the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. He has been a journalist since his freshman year in high school, when he worked for The News-Progress in Richlands, Va. His father was general manager of a coal-preparation plant, an above-ground operation where Randy spent one very dirty summer breaking lumps and cleaning railroad cars.

    As a student at Virginia Tech, he was a student assistant in the sports information department. He has worked for The Roanoke (Va.) Times and World-News, the Carroll County (Md.) Times, The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star in Norfolk (Va.), The New York Times and the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. He is a former president of the Association of Publishing System Users, member of the Society for News Design and the Online News Association, and a life member of the Virginia Press Association, where he has chaired the association's annual news and photo contest for 21 years. He is married to Leslie-Jean Thornton, who teaches journalism at Arizona State University.


  • Albany Times-Union: TV spin doctors can make you crazy
  • Associated Press: Journalists look back at coverage
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Readers (and AJC) still upset over mine-story confusion
  • Baltimore Sun: News media scrambled to rectify reports
  • BBC News: How did the mine message spread
  • Boston Globe: The truth becomes a casualty
  • CBS News.com: A night, and morning, of misinformation
  • CBS News.com: Plenty of blame to go around
  • Charleston Gazette: Media circus turns us all into spies
  • Chicago Tribune: Sources were credible
  • CJR Daily: Misreporting a catastrophe
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer: Miracle happened but not on deadline
  • Courant.com: Anderson Cooper's nightmare
  • Courier-Journal: How and why the mining story was wrong
  • Denver Post: Shoddy reporting core of miracle travesty
  • Derek Rose: Sago mine disaster blog
  • Duluth News Tribune: Stopping the presses last night
  • Editor and Publisher: Editors explain why they announced miracle rescue
  • Editor and Publisher: Local paper says skepticism helped it avoid goof
  • Editor and Publisher: Media report miracle mine rescue -- then carry the tragic truth
  • Editor and Publisher: Mine rescue lessons
  • Editor and Publisher: Questions on sourcing
  • Florida Times-Union: Errors and the mine tragedy
  • Greensboro News and Record: Editor's blog
  • Houston Chronicle: Miners story an example of a pardonable media sin
  • Indianapolis Star: Did reporters quit asking too soon in mine story
  • Kansascity.com: Say you're sorry, CNN
  • Los Angeles Times: Media take hard look at what went wrong
  • New York Times: A night for stopping the presses
  • Newsday: Media vigilance would have lessened heartbreak
  • Oregonian: Diligent designers, editors catch turn of mine story
  • Orlando Sentinel: Paper owed readers apology
  • Palm Beach Post: Miracle story defied safeguards
  • Philadelphia Daily News: The bitter taste of haste
  • Philadelphia Inquirer: How the media got it wrong
  • Poynter Institute: Beyond the headlines
  • Poynter Institute: Dual-platform approach to covering the tragedy
  • Poynter Institute: Headlines on deadline
  • Poynter Institute: Stopping the presses and getting it right
  • Raleigh News and Observer: A night when good news turned bad
  • Raleigh News and Observer: The mine story, from good news to bad
  • Reuters: Miscommunication behind mine deaths mixup
  • Roanoke Times: Breaking plates complicate breaking news situation
  • Rocky Mountain News: How the Rocky wound up with different front-page headlines
  • Rocky Mountain News: One Denver paper corrected its error
  • Rocky Mountain News: Year's first big story offers lessons
  • Salt Lake Tribune: Reporters needed to dig deeper for answers on miners
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: Stopping the presses no easy matter
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Another black eye for media
  • Shreveport Times: Short-lived hope carried in newspapers
  • St. Petersburg Times: Circumstances left many in media with inaccurate reports
  • Star Tribune: When the paper gets it really wrong
  • USA Today: A note to our readers
  • USA Today: Media forced to explain
  • Washington Post: Mine disaster's terrible irony
  • Wichita Eagle: Here's why The Eagle got it wrong
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