First, my deepest sympathy to Denny's family and friends. Like a lot of people in town, I've crossed paths with him at work, at city hall, at rubber-chicken events, at Dooley's, and I have always enjoyed talking with him. He was blunt, a straight-shooter, but also gregarious, funny, energetic and irreverent, and a passionate believer in Rochester.
There's much more to say about Dennis Hanson and we'll do that in coming days. For now, here are some notes on how we covered his medical emergency today.
We learned of his aneurysm early today, about 9 a.m. We posted that online not long after, and we led the front page with the story at press start, 11:05 a.m., with the headline, "Hanson suffers aneurysm."
About a half-hour later, we heard that a radio news report had said Hanson had died. We made calls all over town at that point and before noon put out an email alert that said "multiple sources" confirmed his death. We didn't stop the press at that time, though we had multiple, well-informed sources close to Hanson. Closer to noon (and I intend to plug in some specific times here later), we contacted Mayor Ardell Brede and he said he'd received email notification from the city administrator's office that Hanson had died.
With the mayor, city administrator and other sources, that seemed locked down. We put out another email alert, updated the web and stopped the press to update the story, with the headline, "Council president dies."
Fifteen minutes later, reporter Jeff Pieters was hearing contradictory reports from council member Ed Hruska, who said Hanson was in grave condition but clinging to life.
We put that online, stopped the press once more (with about 12,000 copies left in the press run), returned to the original headline, and reflected the contradictory reports from city officials.
We regret the confusion, but when the mayor, top city administrators and a number of well-placed sources say the city council president has died, we need to report that, attributed to the sources.
There's more to say on this, but for now, I'll express my personal sympathy to Denny's family and friends, and we'll all keep him in our prayers.