Things to do when the Internet is down

We were without Internet access at the Chronicle building for a while this morning. Outages are a part of modern life, but as I, the newspaper’s Web Editor, sat trembling from withdrawals in front of my monitors, I marveled at just how much of our newspaper‘s work requires the Internet.

For one thing, without the Internet, we don’t have e-mail. So that e-mail you were going to send out to tell everybody that the Internet is down and that IT is working on it? Not gonna happen.

Seriously, though, a lot of our business and reportage is conducted over e-mail. Classified ads and announcements for the paper are e-mailed to us. Press releases and advisories come in through e-mail. Sources send photos and other information via e-mail. Yes, we still get a lot of “snail mail,” but the vast majority of people contact us electronically.

Well, surely the newspaper can make do without the Internet for the business of putting together the newspaper, can’t it? Sort of. Sure, a lot of our daily work shoots across an internal network in the building that works regardless of whether we have Internet access, but putting out a daily paper in a smaller market like Bozeman requires interacting with a lot of different services — ad vendors, obituary services, weather forecast providers, the Associated Press newswire, etc. Those outside providers take care of a lot of the work we can’t do or can’t afford to do in-house.

Then, of course, I’m a bit out of sorts when the Internet is down. My job is to take care of the Chronicle’s presences on the various social networks and to mind the website. I go a bit batty trying to find things to do locally when my network connection is down.

On the plus side, as you can see from the photo above, the outage did give me (and many other newsroom staff members) the chance to clean off their desks a bit, because the one thing you can count on at a newspaper is that, no matter how wired you are, people still pile paper on your desk.