The 100th anniversary of the Titanic hitting a fatal iceberg will be next Saturday night. The 100th anniversary if the ship actually sinking will be Sunday.
Yet, a number of papers got a bit of a head-start on their looks back at the tragedy, using the larger amounts of real estate they get for display on Sundays to good advantage.
The most remarkable display today was by the…
Memo to the print journalism world: If you want to go all-out with an awesome, awesome graphic on any topic, you gotta have two things: a) Plenty of space — like, perhaps a doubletruck spread like you see here. And b) A bona-fide visual journalism genius like William Neff on the case.
Click for a much larger look. But have sunglasses ready and prepared to be dazzled.
There’s so much explained here. Pie charts at the bottom show how most of the folks saved via lifeboats were from the first class cabins, while even women and children in third class died.
This part here shows how the ship took water, split in half and ended up on the ocean floor more than a quarter-mile apart.
All of these detail views, by the way, will pop into a readable version if you’ll click on them.
But what caused all that water to sink an “unsinkable” ship? Bill uses the extreme lower left corner to show how it may have been bad rivets.
This part made it clear to area readers just how titan the Titanic really was, comparing it to vessels displayed on the Cleveland waterfront.
The main illustration, though — despite Bill having to leave out about half of the Titanic for space reasons — is just magnificent. Look at the detail he put into the stern.
And note the folks leaping for their lives into the frigid water.
Bill tells us:
The main illustration of the cut-up ship is a Lightwave 3D render. But I like to take my renders into Photoshop and Illustrator and give them a little texture and personality so they don’t look quite so generic and sterile, and also so I can control which parts get emphasized and which drop back.
What kind of time do you suppose you put into this one?
Hmmm … Well, maybe a month overall, although of course this wasn’t the only thing I had to do. The last two weeks they pretty much left me alone to finish it (for which I am grateful).
My daughters and I are huge Titanic buffs to begin with, so the reporting for this graphic was pretty easy.
That graphic occupied the center spread of today’s A section, pages 16 and 17. It was just one component to the Plain Dealer‘s huge Titanic retrospective today.
The online offerings are most impressive.
Among the things you’ll find there are separate stories on each of the local passengers who were aboard the Titanic that night. This timeline shows the lifespans of each of them.
The timeline was built by Felesia McDonald, I’m told.
Some of those stories include video of descendents telling the stories that they heard from the survivors. There is also a video of a local historical reenactor, complete with ship’s officer costume and (fairly terrible) fake British accent.
There is also the obligatory vintage newspaper pages, despite the Titanic not being a huge story there in Cleveland. You’ll see it down the right side of this page, for example.
GLOUCESTER COUNTY TIMES
The Gloucester County Times of Woodbury, N.J., also published a big Titanic-themed front page today.
Find the local story here by Jessica Bautista.
In Fargo, the Forum‘s lead story today was about H.F. Chaffee, a local farmer-turned-successful businessman who was returning from a trip to England with his wife when the Titanic struck that iceburg.
Here’s the top of reporter Tammy Swift‘s story:
Even as her husband, H.F. Chaffee, helped her slip between the ship railings into a lifeboat below, Titanic passenger Carrie Chaffee believed everything would be fine.
Itâ€™s going to be all right, her husband assured her. Youâ€™ll be rowed back to the ship in just a few minutes.
But as the small boat pulled away from the doomed ship, she recognized the source of the low purring sound. â€œIt was the water rushing into the Titanicâ€™s side, and my heart seemed to stop,â€ the Amenia, N.D., woman later told news reporters. â€œThe great vessel was perceptibly lowering in the water.â€
For the first time, Carrie Chaffee felt fear. She searched frantically to make out her husband among the dark shadows behind the Titanicâ€™s rails.
â€œLights were blazing behind them and ships dropping in front with a whirr of tackle,â€ Carrie said in an interview that appeared in an April 22, 1912, edition of The Forum, seven days after the Titanic sank. â€œI never saw him again.â€
Find the entire story here. Plus, there’s an audio interview with Chaffee’s eldest son.
The World-Herald today led with the fascinating story of a man — who later settled in the area — who survived the sinking of the Titanic but not via one of the ship’s scarce lifeboats.
The top of the story by Henry J. Cordes:
Two days after the sinking of the Titanic, Carl Johnson remained bedridden from the hours he’d spent literally fighting for his life in the icy North Atlantic.
But the Nebraska-bound immigrant now felt strong enough to take up a pencil aboard the rescue ship Carpathia and tell his family in Sweden of the horror he’d endured.
He wrote how he jumped into the dark sea as the mammoth ship took its final plunge.
He told how he and another young Swede found a large canvas life raft floating amid the deadly chaos, and how it had become swamped by the dozens of desperate swimmers trying to gain a hold. And then he told how he ruthlessly fought to force some to let go â€” the only way to ensure not all of them perished.
While several dozen finally settled on the raft â€” most standing in waist-deep, bone-chilling water â€” by dawn, only 12 lived.
â€œWhen I think of it, I can’t understand how I could be saved, but my cold-bloodedness to push away the others from the raft so it could be kept on sea level did much to it,” he wrote. â€œIt is awful, but in such a moment the only question is your own life.”
If you have any interest at all in the real story of the Titanic, rush over there now and read the story.
Go here to find last Sunday’s story about the role the St. Louis Post-Dispatch played in the first news reports about the Titanic disaster.
These front-page images are from the Newseum. Of course.