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Reporting the Joseph Paul Franklin story in real time

Published November 20, 2013 10:07 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The state of Missouri declared Joseph Paul Franklin dead at 5:17 a.m. MST Wednesday.

It wasn't long before the sltrib.com webmaster began receiving emails from readers wondering why we hadn't yet updated our story about the serial killer, whose deadly path included Salt Lake City, where he killed 18-year-old David Martin and 20-year-old Ted Fields as they were leaving Liberty Park on Aug. 20, 1980.

This is the world we live in nowadays.

Readers expect us to deliver news immediately, and we do our best to accommodate.

In the case of Franklin's execution, we were relying on the Associated Press in Missouri, which moved a one-sentence alert at 5:23 a.m., and a brief story at 5:27 a.m.

Do we wish we had posted the story online immediately after AP moved it? Of course.

The reality is that we guessed wrong, not thinking Missouri would execute Franklin so early Wednesday with two federal judges having issued stays that still were in place at our 11:20 p.m. Tuesday print deadline.

Our first online reporter/editor arrived at his usual 6 a.m. start time and posted our first Franklin story as soon as he was able.

By 8:30 a.m., the story had already been updated multiple times to include photos, more detail about the execution, information about his Utah crimes, perspective from a Utah victim's family and links to an interactive timeline and the court rulings that ultimately Franklin's fate.

Franklin had been scheduled for execution at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday before the stays were ordered.

In the preceding hours Tuesday, we updated the Franklin story at sltrib.com 15 times as we received court ruling updates and reaction from Franklin victims and their families from reporter Brooke Adams and correspondent Peg McEntee.

Adams and photographer Scott Sommerdorf were in Mississippi Wednesday with Johnnie Mae Martin, the mother of Salt Lake City victim David Martin.

They'll continue to report the story, and we'll continue to update it throughout the day before a final version is prepared for Thursday's print edition.