For years, the Vatican has had an arrangement with major agencies, including Catholic News Service, whenever there is big news: A cell-phone alert tells them to check their e-mail inboxes for an urgent Vatican statement.
So after the pope died, reporters’ cell phones beeped and the e-mailed death announcement began appearing less than a minute later — or longer, depending on the order of arrival. In fact, chaos reigned in the press office for several minutes; those who had not received an e-mail pleaded desperately for confirmation from the agencies that did. There were a few screams — not of grief, but of being late on a story.
The Vatican spokesman showed up much later, to fill in the details.
In the Internet age, which was born during Pope John Paul’s pontificate, the Vatican also marked his passing by changing its home page to the theme of “Sede Vacante” (“Vacant See.”) The site featured an elaborate series of pages detailing the highlights of Pope John Paul’s life and papacy. —John Thavis —With death of Pope John Paul, Vatican changes many procedures (Catholic News Service)
An interesting insider’s look into coverage of the pope’s death. Normally, when reporters start filing stories about the reporters covering an event, you know nothing’s happening. This is one of the few such stories that I think really serves a purpose other than filling the newshole. (And it implicitly answers the objection Matt Kirschenbaum raised about the AP story covering a smiliar topic.)
Thanks for the suggestion, Rosemary.