Well, when the explosion of the first reactor happened, it was four in the morning here and our Web editor woke me up, and it’s hard to go back to sleep after something like that. The Web has changed things. The normal operation of the Times is that if you have a good story, it tends to go up on the Web when you have it, and a refined, better-reported, better-edited story tends to appear in the paper the next morning. In this case, there have been times when the newspaper was a snapshot of whatever the Web had at some certain hour in the evening.

Because there wasn’t time to step back and recast it?

Because it was going to keep changing all night anyway.

Editor’s Note: Matt Wald participated in a recent Harvard Kennedy School seminar on “The Seesaw Media Coverage of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis” organized by CJR contributing editor Russell (audio can be found here). The Times also has an excellent backgrounder on the Japan nuclear crisis as well as a searchable archive on its nuclear coverage.

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Cristine Russell is a CJR contributing editor and the president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is a former Shorenstein Center fellow and Washington Post reporter.