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Panpa Bulletin : November 2010
www.panpa.org.au The PANPA Bulletin | NOVEMBER 2010 | 29 NAT URE'S FURY "EVENTS like this prove print's fun- damental value to the community." That's the view of Andrew Hold- en, editor of The Press, as he reflects on 7.1-Richter scale earthquake that rocked New Zealand's second larg- est city. "We have told people's stories, given them key information -- even to the level of where they will find a portaloo -- and helped them come to terms with the scale of the quake," he says. Our region has suffered some devastating natural disasters, most recently in Indonesia with a quake, tsunami and volcano eruption. Together with the earthquake that shook Christchurch from its sleep, regional towns of Victoria, dot- ted along the Murray River, were flooded after heavy rains. When disaster strikes, local news- papers and their websites provide in- valuable assistance to communities, providing essential emergency-re- lated information, and also allowing locals to share experiences. While social media and web coverage played its role, Mr Holden says a newspaper with a "physical presence you can spend time with and refer back to you whenever you wish is still hugely valuable". The Press lost 3,500 sales on the day of the quake but had an extra 78,200 sales across the following week. Online, The Press's website leapt to 287,396 page impressions from 48,000. Its newsroom moved to the print site because head office was deemed too damaged to be safe by the authorities. Luckily, the new print site has been constructed to withstand earthquakes. "The papers for that morning had just been delivered as the quake hit," recalls Kirk Martin, production manager at Fairfax Web Printing, which prints The Press. Staff were on top of a Goss Unilin- er double-width press at the time. "They could see it moving from side-to-side. The pre-cast concrete walls shimmered, giving the appear- ance of jelly," Mr Kirk says. Production manager Jeremy Coates marvels that the print site was operational three hours later. "When the power supply came back on, we were printing again," he says. "It is very rare for a print site to be up and running so soon after a big quake. The Fairfax investment (in the solid building) paid off!" Editor Mr Holden adds: "We should have definitely increased the print run of Monday's paper. "We sold out, and there were ar- guments in shops when people were buying five copies and others were missing out." In the same week, colleagues 2500km away in Shepparton were covering the incoming floodwaters. Shepparton News editor Richard Bryce was in a different position to Mr Holden because he knew what was coming. "People were relatively relaxed about the incoming water," he re- calls. "It was the outside media that didn't understand this was good news for our drought-affected region." The town had not seen heavy rain in a decade. Readers snapped up copies of the paper and doubled the website traf- fic to find out what was going on. Mr Bryce decided to publish up to 12 extra pages of photos each day during the flood. Social media also played its role. The paper has an impressive 1,590 fans on Facebook, "and this is where we found a lot of our human-interest stories," Mr Bryce recalls. The paper also hired a plane to take aerial photos so readers could "get a good sense of what was hap- pening". Newspapers prove value as residents struggle in disaster zones Andrew Holden, editor of The Press Recycle bins become a makeshift conference table for The Press's editorial team in their temporary newsroom. From left, reporter Shane Cowlishaw conducts a phone interview while graphics editor Mark Cornell, online editor Colin Espiner, Illustrations editor Richard Cosgrove, editor Andrew Holden, chief reporter Kamala Hayman and deputy editor Coen Lammers hold an editorial conference ebecca Leaver NPA Richard Bryce, editor of Shepparton News