Without Power, Arkansas Dailies Shift to Bentonville

By: E&P Staff

With electricity out Tuesday in Lowell and Fayetteville, Ark., the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Times looked to the Benton County Daily Record to produce their Wednesday editions.

The Democrat-Gazette’s newsroom and the Lowell printing plant used by all three papers lost power at about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Telephones were briefly powered by battery backup.

Democrat-Gazette editors sent some reporters, page designers, photographers and clerks to the Times in Fayetteville and others to the Daily Record in Bentonville, according to an account by Chad Hayworth in yesterday’s Northwest Edition of the Arkansas Democrat.

The Times building in downtown Fayetteville lost power in the early afternoon, taking down computers that provide communications and production capabilities, as well as the Web site for the three dailies, neanews.com. Hayworth reported that a generator was being set up to power the site.

With no Internet connection, access to text and images from by the Little Rock newsroom was lost, preventing page design — even in Bentonville, where still has power, according to the report.

Bur Bentonville’s power prompted the platn there to prepare to take over printing the dailies after it completed its usual runs of weeklies owned by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Inc.

Record Editor Kent Marts, who told the Democrat-Gazette that in his 23 years at the paper he’d learned that Bentonville’s city-owned electric utility is very stable, sought workspace for additional Fayetteville staffers.

“The Times newsroom, the information technology staff and a handful of advertising production staff members loaded computers into vehicles and drove through the storm to Bentonville on Tuesday afternoon,” Hayworth wrote.

By evening, almost three dozen newsroom staffers from the three papers were working in Bentonville on networks set up by the IT staff.

Still lacking Internet access in Bentonville, Democrat-Gazette editors found a Wi-Fi connection motel, where they downloaded material from the Little Rock newsroom onto a laptop, carried it back to the Daily Record, and transferred files on flash drives to page designers’ workstations.

The Lowell plant printed the dailies after all, when electricity was restored by early evening. About 92% of the press run was delivered Wednesday by carriers, zone and district managers and circulation managers.

Yesterday’s report also noted that Stephens Media Group’s The Morning News did not print a Wednesday edition owing to a power outage in Springdale, but it planned to print today’s edition at the Democrat-Gazette plant in Lowell.

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