‘Where’s the calming?’ Scenes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s morning meeting

ST. LOUIS — Around 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a small group of journalists stand in a loose circle on the fifth-floor newsroom of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It’s quiet except for the static of the scanner. Many desks sit empty, for now. On one wall, front pages from the week hang in three rows. As the group waits for the metro team to join the scrum, they talk about news that isn’t about Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb that’s made international headlines for more than a week.

That non-Ferguson news written in purple dry-erase marker on a large white board includes: boy bands, free burritos and a forecast that shows temps in St. Louis heating up in what’s so far been a cool summer.

When Marcia Koenig, metro editor, and a few others join the group, they look to the Ferguson news, both digital and for Thursday’s A1. From digital, the list reads as follows:

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 1.40.23 PM

“Where’s the calming?” Koenig asks.

Possibly from the night before, says Amanda St. Amand, continuous news editor.

“Just that that’s what people are saying,” she says. “It could have been the turning point.”

There’s a list for A1, too, and it includes the word “circus.”

“You’ve got Nelly,” Koenig says, “you’ve got Jack Dorsey, you’ve got Jesus and Superman. You’ve got Thomas the Tank Engine.”

It’s a short meeting. Everyone gets back to work, including Lynden Steele, director of photography. He has a staff of 11, with one person out. Eight photographers are rotating working through the nights. Keeping up with stories that aren’t about Ferguson is the trouble now.

“That’s where we’re getting stretched,” he says.

Steele’s concerned about something on the non-Ferguson news list — the weather. Highs for the week may be in the upper 90s. So far, he says, the weather has been cool, not an issue.

“Tonight is the first hot night,” he says, “and that’s gonna make it worse.”

Front pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Photo by Kristen Hare)

Front pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Photo by Kristen Hare)

Correction: This post originally misspelled Marcia Koenig’s last name.

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