Staff report: when the lights went out

Tuesday nights in the Triangle, the Threefold Advocate’s office, can be hectic. But on Oct. 1 at 6:48 p.m., the office was peaceful but busy. The opinion page was almost finished, the copy editor was furiously correcting stories and the editor-in-chief was “discussing” with the sports editor how to layout the page. The managing editor was muttering about this week’s editorial while one of the news editors was on Tumblr.

Then the lights went out. The Triangle went from a bright room with flashing screens and bright lights to a pitch black box.

One of the senior writers began yelling, “Government shutdown, government shutdown!” as the staff stumbled out of the room into the library lobby. The sports editor mumbled under their breath “this cannot be happening right now” while the Op-Ed editor sat in a state of shock. If her page was lost, it would be the second time in one night.

The graphic designers tried to figure out how to get the pictures for the back page and statistics for graphs without Wi-Fi, let alone electricity, while the copy editor rushed to the cafeteria to “get quotes” and the news editor headed to the library for the same reason. Another copy editor came from the library to the lobby to talk to the staff about what had happened.

The ad director had campus safety on the phone within seconds while the managing editor called the paper’s advisor to begin making plans if the power did not come back. They discovered the power outage covered not only the entire town, but reached as far as Springdale. A senior staff writer was discussing how to get an interview that night with the Resident Director of Hutcheson Hall.

The editor-in-chief began planning an entire online issue, or at least pushing back their deadlines, figuring how to format a story written by three different people and trying to find the number for the city without using Wi-Fi.

The op-ed and sports editors both began to wish the lights would just stay off as the senior writer in the group described the two-hour blackout experienced last year. The ad director and back page graphic designer began to panic. They hadn’t saved anything before the power went out.

But within ten minutes, the power was back. The staff rushed back into the office to restart their computers and find out if their hard work for the night had been lost. They discussed if the blackout was important enough to write a story. After all they had multiple sources, first-hand experience and a quick call or two would give them the official report on what happened.

Instead they sat at their desks and got back to work. They had a paper to put out and a deadline to make. Some stories you have to let go, especially when they revolve around you.