Publishing under Adverse Conditions: Oklahoma Business Newspaper, with the Help of a Nearby Daily, Misses Only One Edition after Bomb Blast Damages Its Pressroom

Article excerpt

AT FIRST LARRY Fisk thought it was some kind of gas explosion.

And then the conference room where he sat with other managers was filled with shards of glass from the windows. Down the hall a light fixture fell on a reporter. Two paste-up artists lay seriously injured on the floor of the composing room.

It was 9:04 a.m. Wednesday, April 19, and the homemade truck bomb that had destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma city had also devastated the offices of Journal Record Publishing, publisher of the 92-year-old daily Journal Record, a business newspaper.

Virtually all the editorial, photocomposition and printing facilities of Journal Record Publishing's many enterprises were housed in the 92-year-old Journal Record Building, across the street from the federal building.

And once the company's 175 employees were safely out of the building -- four of them were taken directly to the hospital, and all were released within a few days -- Journal Record managers scrambled to rebuild.

Fortunately, it was quickly determined that the building itself was structurally sound.

But that didn't mean much, said Journal Record president and general manager Larry Fisk.

"The interior is so torn out that it is an open question whether we will be able to return," Fisk said.

The explosion's worst damage occurred in a relatively new addition to the building that housed the Journal Record's production facilities for the company's various publications. In addition to the 3,600-circulation daily business newspaper, the company publishes Tinker Take-Off, the 30,000-free-distribution weekly for Tinker Air Force Base; several shoppers; and several editions of the Auto Trader. The company also prints all documents for the Oklahoma Legislature and is a commercial printer.

At the time of the explosion, the wing housed two web presses, a sixunit Heidelberg-Harris V-15 and an eight-unit Heidelberg-Harris V-15-D with four splicers. In addition, the company had eight sheet-fed presses.

While some of the sheet-fed presses were accessible to workers and only slightly damaged, Fisk said, the two web presses were buried in rubble.

That Wednesday, the day of the explosion, the Journal Record newspaper missed an edition for the first time in its 92 years. But that day also demonstrated a spirit of cooperation by the newspaper industry, Fisk said.

"Everybody has been so helpful, just leaving us keys so we can come and go. …