October 16, 2015

Henry Williams texted all week about the big secret project he’d been working on. The Wall Street Journal news editor of interactives at WSJ Pro told his girlfriend that he couldn’t tell her any details, though. And at first, Rosanna Mah believed him.

By Friday, the lawyer and former journalist was suspicious.

Why couldn’t Williams tell her until the paper came out on Friday night? The paper came out in the morning. She assumed it was the story of a big merger or IPO, but the timing didn’t make sense. So last Friday morning, Mah started asking more questions.

Yes, the paper did come out in the morning, Williams conceded. Actually, he meant he’d show her after work when he brought the paper home with him.

“I said, OK, so it’s online?” Mah said.

Williams left the bedroom of his Brooklyn apartment and came back in with the paper. He handed it to Mah.

“And he shows me the Journal with my picture on it,” she said. “The first thing that came to my mind is, I can’t believe he put my picture in the paper.”

Williams did put his girlfriend’s picture on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. What she didn’t know, at first, was that she was holding one of two copies, that he’d made it just for her, and that he’d hidden a marriage proposal in the refer.

Screen shot

Screen shot

Williams wanted to propose to Mah, and he wanted to do something creative. They were set to head to London last week, and he thought about having the proposal announced on the plane.

Then, he started talking to his coworkers. They helped him mock up a front page with stories of the progression of their relationship mixed in with real news. His plan, up until last Friday morning, was to give it to her on the plane.

But she had some good questions.

“At that point, I gave up,” he said.

He walked into the living room, got the mock up, which was wrapped around the real paper, and headed back into the bedroom.

“And I said, you can just read it.”

And she did. She found real news and personal stories that showed how their relationship developed, (including the camping trip where they were raided by raccoons.) At first, she didn’t see the refer. And she didn’t realize he’d left the room.

“I looked up and he was kneeling there with the box open and a diamond ring,” Mah said.

Mah and Williams left that night for London. They left one copy of the proposal paper in Brooklyn. They brought the other with them to show family and friends.

When they get home, they’ll frame it.

She said yes. (Photo courtesy Henry Williams)

She said yes. (Photo courtesy Henry Williams)

Related: L.A. Times sees a newsroom marriage proposal

Toronto Star helps propose marriage

How to propose in a newsroom

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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