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Backstage at The Times on Oscar night

February 27, 2012 |  4:30 pm


Oscar night at The Times is a major production — perhaps not as large as that of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but pretty big nonetheless.

And as with any event, it takes a large group of people behind the scenes to pull it all together.

Assistant Managing Editor Michael Whitley, who oversees The Times' design editors, chronicled production of the Oscars edition with photos that he tweeted periodically. By the end of the night, he'd posted more than 30, and they provide a glimpse into the work that went into Monday's newspaper.

What inspired him?

I probably get asked more about Oscar night at the L.A. Times than anything else we do. So posting the photos was kind of a last-minute idea (and I really didn’t even think it though all the way). I just took a photo and posted it. It was a way for me to get out some of the nervous energy I feel early in the night when we are waiting a lot.

And as I went along and took a few more, I got some emails from friends in the journalism community saying they liked seeing the process unfold and could I keep it up. So I did the best I could while also still editing the section.

The Oscars coverage is one of my favorite things we do, and I’m glad other people are interested enough to look in on how we do it.

Here are just a few of Whitley's photos, with comments he provided Monday:


[Design editor] Kirk Christ and [reporter] Gina McIntyre watch as Octavia Spencer wins Best Supporting Actress. Everything stops for a minute when winners are announced.


These are photos that were edited into the “maybe” piles for the fashion spread.


[Design editor] Wes Bausmith and [photo editor] Cindy Hively doing a second edit for the fashion page. It was followed by a third and fourth edit.


This is the first “finished” version of the fashion spread by Wes Bausmith, meaning it was done enough to start editing. The whole page ended up flipped over and several of the photos got changed out. This spread had the earliest deadline of the night, 9 p.m.


[Design editor] Judy Pryor realized at this moment our plan for this page was not going to work. Nothing was fitting right so we had to redo it.

This is when we got serious about what photo would go to 1A and what photo would be on the cover of the Calendar section. [From left] Julie Makinen, Marcy Springer, Rich Nordwind, Joe Eckdahl, Lorraine Wang, Craig Turner and Cindy Hively.


[Whitley posted this caption Sunday night with this photo]: “Amazing to have a cover with a moment that was not seen in the broadcast as far as I can tell.”

--Deirdre Edgar

Top photo: Photo editor Ken Kwok's press pass for the Academy Awards. Photos by Michael Whitley / Los Angeles Times.