Plane crashes in Grand Canyon with German tourists aboard

A correspondent in San Francisco first notices on Twitter: “Cessna down in Grand Canyon some German tourists in the plane, may be fatalities.” A tourist posted the tweet and it was accompanied with a blurry photo where you can just make out a plane crash. This is a good starting point, but not enough for a report.

The correspondent then calls the police in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is near the Grand Canyon. While on hold, she looks at possible flights she could take from San Francisco to Flagstaff. The police get back to her and say they have not heard of anything.

Her second phone call is to the National Park Service. They confirm there has been an accident. She probes: Cessna, Germans, and fatalities? They cannot confirm this information but confirm the accident. The reporter sends out a notice to dpa’s clients: dpa is on it, but we don’t have enough to build a reliable report yet.

That changes with the next phone call. The police chief confirms that a Cessna crashed with a pilot and four German tourists on board. “One person has a broken leg, one woman with terrible bruises. But everyone survived and they are doing well, all things considered. Their passports say they come from a city called Darmstadt.”

The correspondent in San Francisco writes a notice and sends it to Berlin. In the editing office “Panorama” the editor on staff asks a colleague on the dpa-Infographic team whether he can prepare a graphic showing the accident in the Grand Canyon. The notice is read again and the colleague confirms: “You only included the age of two of the tourists and not the other two. Yeah, the police chief didn’t know the other two peoples’ ages.  And what is North Rim? We need to explain that. Ok, then I’ll write ‘on the Northern edge of the canyon, where nearly five million tourists go annually.

Die dpa-infografik erstellt eine Grafik mit der Absturzstelle
dpa-infographics composes a graphic with more details about the crash scene.

The notice goes out to the German wire. Beforehand an editor in Berlin spoke with colleagues in the photo department. Do we have photos in the area? Did the police chief provide any photos or are there some from the national park? Can you first take a photo from our archives so we can at least include a photo with our online report? The second message goes to Frankfurt because the injured tourists are from Darmstadt and the regional office will send out a notification. “German tourists,” changes to “Tourists from Hessen,” and where they come from is included higher up in the story. Stories throughout the rest of Germany will keep it lower in the text.

The correspondent in San Francisco stops looking for flights to the Grand Canyon. The story is important but not important enough that she needs to fly there. She puts on her headset and does an audio piece that is made available to dpa-customers a few minutes later.  At the same time her report is already up on dozens of German-newspaper websites with a photo from the archives for the time being. Then she moves on to the next story, as this one report was just a small part of her everyday job in San Francisco and with dpa.

Redakteurin in San Francisco schreibt eine Meldung und schickt sie nach Berlin
The correspondent in San Francisco writes a notice and sends it to Berlin.