Newspapers adjust to readers' need for weather information
By Leigh Landini Wright
Saturday, February 07, 2009
MARION, Ky. --- Chris Evans knows the news business never stops.
Evans, editor of The Crittenden Press, drove his family to Paris, Tenn., his hometown, immediately after the ice storm and continued on to Jackson, Tenn., to buy generators and find a cell phone signal.
The Press had already printed its Jan. 28 edition. The paper had little information about the winter storm, so Evans and his staff put together a special two-page copier paper size edition filled with basic information about water, power, phone service and emergency services.
With no power throughout the county, the pages served as the sole source of public information. The Press distributed the special edition free throughout town and to the shelters.
Radio station WMLJ was knocked off air for the first week of the storm. Some residents could listen to WPSD’s radio feed if they had battery-operated radios.
“I feel like we’ve met our obligation to the community,” Evans said. “We felt like we needed to keep people informed.”
Evans relied on a freelancer to post updates to the newspaper’s Web site and his editor’s blog. Without Internet service, he couldn’t access the newspaper’s e-mail account where emergency agencies sent information.
Evans called former resident Matthew Patton, who lives in Pennsylvania, with information to post to the blog (crittendenpress.blogspot.com) and access to e-mail.
Patton also called friends and family in the area, Evans said. He said readers from outside Kentucky relied on the site for news about their hometown.
During the days after the storm, The Press office ran off a generator and produced this week’s edition a day early.
Evans said he wanted residents to have up-to-date information.
The Press also published its free shopper, The Early Bird, with storm stories. “We almost canceled it, but it’s a free publication and total saturation, so I figured we might be able to get it to everybody.”
The Press office regained power and Internet on Thursday.
Staff from The Herald-Ledger in Eddyville and The Metropolis (Ill.) Planet used The Paducah Sun’s ad production area as home base for this week’s editions. Both are Paxton Media Group properties.
The other local Paxton properties, The Tribune-Courier in Benton and The Cadiz Record, were able to operate and print normally.
Leigh Landini Wright can be contacted at 575-8658. Article reproduced with permission from The Paducah Sun (www.paducahsun.com).