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Copy sent via txt msg helps newspaper beat deadline

Civil unrest and a 4,000-mile gap didn’t stop the Birmingham Mail keeping on top of an important breaking story.

When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan, the Mail’s columnist Faraz Yousufzai was attending a family wedding – the first time in 15 years he’d visited his ancestral homeland.

He managed to file copy to his bosses in the Midlands via e-mail but as the deadline approached, the day after the murder, he sent text messages from Karachi airport to editor Steve Dyson.

Steve told holdthefrontpage: “It’s the first time I have been involved in a breaking story being filed by text. I doubt it will be the last.

“When we heard [about Bhutto], I texted him to ask him to send us a special despatch.

“Sometimes you get a bit depressed how the internet is taking over but on that particular day it was like old-time journalism with a frontline reporter filing copy by phone – just even more up-to-date.”

  • Man in Karachi: Faraz Yousufzai’s story
  • Faraz, a youth worker based in Birmingham, managed to send some copy overnight for the paper’s early editions the day after the assassination.

    And as he waited at the airport for his flight he kept Steve up-to-date with text messages simply because it was the easiest way to transmit the additional copy.

    “I asked him to text me some colour,” Steve added.

    “Within half an hour he sent the full outlook of burnt out cars and the fact his aunt had been attacked.

    “We crammed it into a story for deadline.

    “This is important for Birmingham as it has more than 100,000 people of Pakistan origin.”