Brian Sandford: Here’s what happens when breaking news hits

Wednesday, you might have seen frequently updated stories on our website about a lockdown at Carson Middle School. We followed that up Thursday with a full story focusing the aftermath of the incident and what’s next (in this case, a 12-year-old’s possible criminal charges). Next week, we’ll delve into how the Carson City School District and Sheriff’s Office handled the situation.

Today, I’ll shed some light on how our newsroom covers breaking news. It’s a team effort, and I was especially proud of the team Wednesday.

We generally learn of breaking crime news one of three ways: via the police scanner in the middle of the newsroom; a reader tip; or a reporter, editor or photographer witnessing the news as it happens and calling the newsroom.

We learned about Wednesday’s report of a gun at Carson Middle via an unusual fourth source. I’d invited Sheriff Ken Furlong to meet with our news staff, and we’d been chatting for about 25 minutes when he received a phone call. He got up and told us he had to go, that there was a report of a child with a gun at a school. We said, “Well, we’re following you.”

Reporter Teri Vance and photographer Shannon Litz arrived quickly on a hectic scene, swelling with sheriff’s office cars and frightened parents. We posted a story at notifying readers of the lockdown. Teri and Shannon sent updates and photos via cellphone to deputy editor Adam Trumble and me, and we updated our online story numerous times. I updated our Facebook page as new information came to light; Adam did the same with Twitter.

And those updates kept coming as plans changed. At one point, students were going to be released to their parents outside the school. At another, they were going to be sent to nearby Bordewich-Bray Elementary School. Neither of those things ended up happening.

When big breaking news hits, we aim to tell you everything we know, as soon as we know it. And it’s not always a one-way conversation; we often get tips during breaking-news events that bolster our coverage. We are grateful for them.

If you’ve got a tip, we’d like to hear it. You can reach the newsroom at 775-881-1211 or We also monitor our Facebook page fairly closely.

Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at


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