What big news story requires weeks of planning, a team of eight journalists and extra pages of newsprint to tell?
No, besides the Super Bowl.
Last week’s coverage of the ferry Kalakala’s final sailing was a major undertaking for our newsroom, but a labor of love for a community that had a strong love/hate relationship with the rusted old boat.
To get the ferry to the spot on the Tacoma Tideflats where it would be scrapped, owner Karl Anderson pulled together a team of experts — a naval architect, engineers, tugboat pilots, even a minister for a version of last rites.
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Likewise, we gathered a team of experienced journalists, each with his or her own expertise, and worked through the contingencies. On Thursday, when the Kalakala was moved, we had three photographers, three writers and two editors on the scene.
“What we most wanted were good photos and time-lapse video,” said Randy McCarthy, our breaking news team leader. “The story of the move could be told well in words, but the best method of capturing the moments was going to be with cameras.”
Staff writer C.R. Roberts, whose main assignment was the next-day story for the newspaper, worked with Anderson to smooth out access on land and on the water.
Photographer Dean Koepfler, photo editor Joe Barrentine and staff writer Adam Lynn (an after-hours kayaker/photographer/urban explorer) reconnoitered the route to find the best vantage points.
The team assembled in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Lynn and staff photographer Peter Haley were aboard the boat shadowing the Kalakala and the tugs. Lynn’s first tweet came at 3:31 a.m.: “Crews are preparing the #Kalakala for its final voyage this morning.”
Lynn followed with quotes from the tug captain: “She’s starting to show forward motion here,” and “I’m going to slow her down for the turn,” and as she arrived at the scrap yard, “Perfect. Our water’s good.”
Photographers Koepfler and Drew Perine worked several spots at either end of the Kalakala’s move out of the Hylebos Waterway and back into the Blair Waterway. Barrentine took to the high ground overlooking Commencement Bay.
Staff writer Stacia Glenn typed live online dispatches from the only dry place she could find — inside a big industrial pipe alongside the waterway.
In the end, everything went smoothly for both teams.
Anderson’s crew moved the Kalakala without incident and according to the timeline. Nearly all of our coverage was available online before dawn and shortly after the Kalakala arrived at the graving yard.
The 48-second, time-lapse video of the Kalakala’s final voyage took weeks to plan, cameras positioned in five locations, and two hours to shoot and edit. It’s well worth a look at bit.ly/1yPEmBl.
“Readers got a close-in look at a piece of local lore,” McCarthy said, “and our team got a company-paid breakfast afterward at the Poodle Dog Restaurant.”
And what about that other big story — the Super Bowl? We have a similarly size team of TNT journalists arriving Sunday (Jan. 25) in Arizona to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the Seattle Seahawks’ run for a second pro football championship.
Look for several pages of coverage each day, including a special section next Sunday.
And watch for our fun online pieces at thenewstribune.com, including a Marshawn Lynch 8-ball. Ask the 8-ball a question, and you’ll get one of Lynch’s inane answers back in response.