Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Sandy Cuts Power, but Not News Coverage

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Sandy Cuts Power, but Not News Coverage

Article excerpt

The front page of the Nov. 1 edition of the New Canaan (Conn.) Advertiser carried a quote from Rob Mallozzi III, the city's first selectman: "The true measure of a community is how they handle a crisis ... and in this case, there is a spirit and commitment." They're fitting words for the first issue printed after Hurricane Sandy knocked down trees and power lines, leaving 70 percent of the city's population in the dark.

Advertiser editor Joshua Fisher said the paper's downtown offices didn't lose power, and the small staff of three reporters made it a priority to keep residents informed.

"During a time of crisis, having information can comfort people," he said.

The staff kept watch over the police scanner and recorded a running log of dosed roads, shot video around town, snapped photographs of damaged structures and downed trees, and updated social media. Fisher said during that week, the staff produced nearly 100 Sandy-related stories for print and the website (ncadvertiser. corn). According to Fisher, the paper's circulation is 6,800. "There are 6,900 homes in town," he added.

Fisher said social media aided the Advertiser, not only with reporting, but also with engaging with the community. "Readers were tweeting and posting on our Facebook when their power was back on, sending us photos, videos, and eyewitness reports." Thanks to smartphones, he said, "just because people lose power doesn't mean there isn't any information out there ... I've been doing this for 12 years now, and now we're able to get news in and out in real time."

When Hurricane Irene hit last year, Fisher said there was no power at the company-owned printing press for six days. This time, they were ready with a rented generator. The weekly publication comes out every Thursday, and the storm delayed the new edition for 20 hours, which Fisher said worked in their favor. …

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