Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fun With Newspapers: the Storm and Election Night

I have a lot to catch up on and write about - you may have heard about this giant storm that ravaged New Jersey. Yeah, that. We lost power for a few days, have had to wait on long lines for gas and have had to deal with some other craziness, but we are lucky that things weren't worse for us. So many others have lost everything and my heart is just broken. I hope you'll help support the Red Cross or other groups helping the victims of this storm. And please keep sending your good vibes and thoughts to those of us here!

So I want to share what it's been like working at the Studio these last two weeks. The storm hit on a day when I was scheduled to be off. I'm kind of glad I was home - because I probably would have been stuck in Neptune for a few days.

My co-workers really amaze me. Many of them rode out the storm at the office - getting out our newspapers. Some of the papers were taken over by the other design studios. Most of the papers we produce from Maryland from Vermont fell into the storm's span. 

The Studio had lots of air mattresses and food for people who were stuck at work. Some were there for days. There are showers in the building and the cafeteria provided meals for everyone. Most of my co-workers, especially those who live at the Shore, lost power at home and have had to deal with damage. Some had to bring their kids and dogs in for a few days. Some of them still don't have power, but they've been showing up everyday and I really don't know how they're keeping it together.  I would get to work and people were just waking up. It was so weird. In spite of it all, they did some amazing work! 

So on Tuesday after the storm, I couldn't get to work because the Turnpike was closed. So I drove over to my sister's place - she never lost power - and I was able to work remotely. The crazy thing is it took me almost an hour to get to Randi's - and she lives only a mile away! There were trees down, traffic lights out, awnings and scaffolding in the streets. People were out trying to clean up. There was one bend in Boulevard East just past the Galaxy that looked really crazy - a traffic light was on the ground (I never realized how big those are!), a tree was up by the roots with all of the sidewalk around it and a wall around one of the high rises was in crumbles. Everything was such a mess.

Here's what I was working on ...

Rochester's had a big report on police offers getting out of parking tickets. (Best excuse: He couldn't see to well!) I had to do a lot of clean up on the tickets, but I really like how it turned out. 

On Wednesday, I made it down to the office in probably record time because there were so few cars on the road. But I wasn't sure how I was going to make it back on Thursday because of the gas panic. The editor up at The Journal News had offered to let some of us work up there and I took her up on it. Not only was it a shorter drive, but I was able to find gas and only had to wait a half hour. And it was really great to the new office and all of my old co-workers. It was exactly a year and one day since I started my job at the Studio - so I told some people who were wondering what I was doing there that I had been on a really long vacation. 

It was also just nice to work with some of them in person again and do some planning for the Sunday cover. I worked on TJN a few times in the last week and man that's a hard shift! We had a lot of live pages on Saturday night, an early deadline and lots of zoning, which I didn't remember exactly how to do in our computer system. Don't know what I would have done without my friend Alyce, who really helped me out! 

On Saturday, I almost cried because my job had a big tanker sitting outside and they provided gas for employees. It's insane how something so minor can mean the world of difference. New Jersey instituted odd/even days for gas so I would have had to spend my day off on Sunday trying to fill up. It really put my mind at ease. 

So on top of all of this storm and everything people were dealing with, Tuesday was election day. Here's a Rochester page I did leading up to all of it...

I spent Monday laying out pages for three newspapers in advance. The papers gave us a line up with story lengths and plan for photos and it was my job to make it all fit so that hopefully, on Election Night, reporters can just write to fill out the spaces. And for the most part it worked. But there are always crazy things that happen!

We had several cover options ready to go (in theory) depending on whether Obama or Romney won or whether the races were too close to call by deadline. I was working on The Journal News and right around deadline, the networks started calling the race for Obama and we had some scrambling to do.  Even when you're ready, you never are and the computer system never works the way you want it to. 
Here's the cover I worked on...

Obama didn't come out to speak until way after most of our deadlines, so most papers featured older photos like this one. Many of us still hung out around the office to hear him. I think I got home around 3 a.m.

This week at work reminded me a lot of how it felt to work after Sept. 11. Everyone really came together and did an incredible job. I hate that it takes tragedy to bring us together, but I'm really proud to have been a part what we did. 

Here's a look at all of our covers from Election Night...

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