June 1, 2002

 






 

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned
Wall Street Journal: a profile in courage

The reporters and editors at the Wall Street Journal not only saw the World Trade Center attacks - they felt and heard the Twin Towers explode and shatter the windows of the Journal office.

Black smoke, hot ash, broken glass: it's not everyday reporters have to hide under their desks. But on September 11, the paper's building, directly across from the World Trade Center, evacuated its nine floors. Reporters, editors and staff fled through rubble and holed up at the South Brunswick, N.J. backup site and a Canal Street office.

Despite zero visibility and no operable phone lines - land or cellular - the "Gray Lady" pulled herself up by the bootstraps and printed some of the most resourcefully reported 9/11 stories. With seven floors worth of staff jammed into their Canal Street office, the paper churned out in-depth market analyses as well as harrowing first person pieces like Daniel Henninger's "I Saw It All. Then I Saw Nothing," noted by the Pulitzer organization when it awarded the Journal for breaking news.

But the day of the attacks, nobody at the paper was thinking about awards - they were trying to stay alive.

"In the back of your mind, you didn't know who was dead," said Cathy Panagoulias, assistant managing editor. Some usually off-site Journal reporters were staying in World Trade Center hotels at the time, and many top editors were missing for several hours. "The last place people saw them was at Ground Zero," said Panagoulias. "It was very, very scary."

Luckily, none of the staff was injured. In July, they will return to their rebuilt offices in the World Financial Center, with their new Pulitzer in hand. "It was a great honor," said Panagoulias. "But it was bittersweet because the event was so incredibly tragic."

- Shirley Dang



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