Just came across this link from API: How copy desks can handle big stories well. It was published Sept. 11, 2001.
* Be sure that several copy editors are assigned to handle all non-disaster copy -- the material that is unrelated to the big, breaking story. Don’t fall into the trap of pulling those editors away from what they're doing to help close a page or deal with other production tasks. That kind of action will ultimately result in missing deadlines, anyway, and it will destroy the integrity of the disaster-story action plan.There's more. Check it out now to be prepared for later.
* Appoint one person from the desk to be the liaison with the rest of the newsroom. Any decisions from other desks or higher-ups that have to be transmitted to the copy desk should go through this person. Don't allow a bunch of reporters or assigning editors to bother copy editors. Let them go through the liaison.
* Check for conflicts. One editor should look at all stories for consistency -- and this should be done throughout the publishing cycle. You don't want the main story to say that 82 are dead and a sidebar to say that the number is 79. You don't want the main story to say that the father's name is Albert and a sidebar to say that his name is Alfred.
* Avoid word-play headlines at all costs.