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2021 Breaking News, Large Newsroom finalist

Capitol Riots

About the Project

By Christmas, we knew that Jan. 6 had the potential to be historic. Washington Post sources were telling us so, we saw and read the call on social media, and President Trump all but promised it.

So we were ready. The Post had dozens of reporters, photographers and video journalists on the streets of D.C. and inside the Capitol and dozens of designers, graphic artists and editors back at their desks ready to engage our readers.

Our goal was simple: to show our audience what was happening in real time to allow them to make their own judgments about the events of the day. When the worst did happen on Jan. 6, The Post reacted with immediacy, urgency, enterprise and creativity. The Post’s preparation, execution and use of all platforms gave our audience the best and most comprehensive coverage of that monumental day.

Through text, video, photos, graphics and design, we gave our audience what they needed to understand, respond and act. We didn’t bombard our readers. We gave them choices in the first 36 hours after the riot.

We started a live updating file with real-time news and information. The file was updated constantly with journalists at their desks taking feeds, photos and videos from journalists in the field. Because we were prepared, the first item in the file came at 6:39 a.m. on Jan. 6 (telling readers the facts about the election results). A post a few minutes later told our audience what the far right forums were saying. We had feeds from the marches and the rallies. At 1:41 p.m., we told people the crowds were headed toward the Capitol. By 2:15, the rioters breached the Capitol. Our final post at 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 7 was about the FBI investigation. In between was a tick-tock of the terror of the day.

If you wanted more than words, we very quickly created an interactive video and graphic timeline. Readers got to see, feel and absorb the historic day — a platform that was crucial to allowing our audience to inform themselves.

We also provided a live video feed of the day. It started out as an analysis of what Congress was supposed to do that day. Post journalists walked viewers through the joint session. But when the protesters breached, it became a live show of the riot.

Of course, we provided a definitive and traditional news story, with context, drama and analysis.

And by the next day, The Post provided a reconstruction of the day in words, photos and video that used nuance to garner reader understanding.

We are able to do this by being prepared, allowing us to be present at one of the most consequential events in our history.