The challenges of updating a website and producing a paper with little or no electricity were enormous, there's no doubt about it.
And Telegram staff members have learned we will be dealing with certain challenges resulting from the recent power outages a little bit longer. Management of the Village Shopping Centre, where our offices are located, announced Tuesday afternoon the mall will be closed until further notice due to extensive damage to sprinkler and electrical systems that happened last Sunday.
Crews are on location working on repairs.
“We understand the effect this situation has had on both our tenants (and) employees and our customers and are working as hard as possible to get repairs completed,” mall management said in a written statement.
On Sunday, with no access to our offices and sporadic or no power in our homes, some Telegram reporters took to their cars and warming centres to gather the news, using their iPhones to email stories to our editors, who posted them on our website. New stories weren’t just reported; they were experienced first-hand.
“I started off with 75 per cent on my phone, and that’s what I worked off for the first couple of days,” said reporter Ashley Ftizpatrick, whose beat covers natural resources. “When the warmup centres opened up, I started circling around to them, seeing how other people were coping. I have no dependents and I was lucky enough to be mobile, so I started collecting news for the paper that way.”
When Fitzpatrick’s iPhone died, a city worker in Mount Pearl lent her his charger.
“In a way, we’ve had a couple of years’ training for this, with our website and social media,” Fitzpatrick continued. “It actually wasn’t much different from what we do day to day, in terms of gathering the news.”
Getting the paper laid out and sent to the press was going to be an obstacle, however.
“Through countless emails and phone calls, it was agreed the content would be written and edited in St. John’s, and pages would be designed by the team at The Western Star in Corner Brook — they did two papers that night,” explained Telegram managing editor Steve Bartlett.
Once the paper was designed and transmitted back to St. John’s, we lost power at our printing plant on Columbus Drive. It wasn’t until later Monday morning that the paper was printed and on the streets, and our 700 carriers, drivers and distribution agents got to work.
“Our youth carrier families and adult carriers have been doing a tremendous job reaching customers across the province, and we haven’t missed a day,” said Leo Gosse, reader sales and marketing manager. “Our support team is working around the clock, and has been in constant contact with carriers and drivers. We’ve been bringing in the news to communities where, in some cases, they didn’t have power.”
Some reporters are working from home, while other staff members are working at other sites owned by our company, all connected via email like a virtual office. The paper — print, web and digital editions — will continue to publish as usual.
“They’re all working incredibly hard to ensure our website is delivering breaking news and the paper is providing comprehensive analysis,” explained Bartlett. “It’s been amazing to watch. This team is incredible and willing to do whatever it takes to inform the public. I can’t say enough about them, but I can say thanks.”
Telegram management has been in constant contact with Village management, who have said there are blowers in use in the building, and electrical equipment has been taken off-site for testing. When the mall opens again will be contingent on those test results.