I have been in the newspaper business for about ten years now. When it comes to unexpected events or things occurring, I’ve learned to just go ahead and expect that something unaccounted for will occur. It’s just the nature of the business. Well, last week caught me off guard. I’ve never in all my years working for weekly newspapers, had a paper delayed in its publication.
This storm hit and I think none of us really thought it would linger the way it did. Nor do I think that we were fully prepared for the sheer amount of snowfall. In fact, the National Weather Service out of Memphis, Tenn. estimated parts of Tate County received 12-18 inches of snowfall throughout the course of the week. Ya’ll, living thirty minutes from the Gulf of Mexico for the past 3 years, did not prepare me for living in those types of conditions.
Now I’ll admit there was a certain sense of beauty to the white, glistening snow covered lawns, homes and streets. The sound of the snowflakes pattering the ground and roof tops was even soothing because it seemed to be the only sound I heard as I steppe outside during last weeks event. All the cars in our neighborhoods were parked and our little area hibernated from the cold inside our warmed homes and it was serene- peaceful.
That is until, I realized the papers wouldn’t go out on time. At that moment things set in for me on just how serious of a winter event we were facing.
See there is a saying in the news world, “The news never sleeps”. It’s sort of a mantra which all of crazies in this business adhere to on a regular basis.
We have friends and family outside of the business who question why we keep late hours or rise so early. Loved ones who wonder why we put off celebrations or observe holidays on “off” days. We have people in our lives who just don’t understand why on deadline days, we tend to put everything else off.
Well, let me address it here and now. It’s because we do believe in the words “News never sleeps.” We go out in rain and snow and hurricanes, to get the photos. To understand the story so we can write about it intelligently. We do it because we believe we are serving our community. Let’s face it folks, we are a community newspaper. It’s our job to inform the good people of our community of the local happenings.
This past week tested concept for me.
Monday afternoons are our deadline days. We send the pages to the press and then we wait for the papers to be printed down in Greenville and make their way back to us for drops at the post offices and around the country at our racks and dealers.
Last Monday I sent the pages to the press early. I suppose I was hoping to speed along the process and beat the storm.
Not thirty minutes after I sent the pages, I received a phone call. The roads to the press were iced over and there was no way to get workers into the facility to print the papers.
I won’t lie. It shocked me. I’d never faced anything like that before. But after a series of calls to publishers all over the state, I realized, our paper wasn’t the only one facing this issue for the first time. At that point, it finally hit me. Things were out of my control. Turns out no one can control the weather.
Over the course of the week, it took teamwork on a very large scale across multiple counties and agencies to get the newspapers back first to Senatobia and then out to the post offices.
My biggest take away from “Snowpocalypse 2021” has been to be thankful. I am extremely grateful for our first responders in the police Station and fire stations. I was in communication with the departments on the conditions of the roads before our delivery people hit the streets. Our first responders worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of citizens and we should all tell them thank you when given the chance.
I’m also very grateful to our hard workers at the post office. They had some tough calls to make last week and personally, I think they handled it in the best possible way. I’m also grateful to the leadership of our schools. They chose to keep our children, teachers and staff members of our schools in the city and county safe. At the end of the day, school administrations put the wellbeing of our children first, and in my humble opinion, that’s exactly what school systems should do.
So, folks, I do apologize the newspapers were late this previous week. In fact, it might even be possible that some of you are reading this column before you even receive the prior edition. It was a hard pill for me to swallow. But, maybe I learned a hard lesson in the best way possible-we can’t control everything around us, but we can get through it with teamwork.