Publisher Tampa edition and TampaBay.com, St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg, FL
Back in 1978, when I was still actually in college and working part-time at a newspaper in Hartford, I was working the evening shift on the copy desk, and it was – I’m gonna’ say about one o’clock in the morning – and one of the jobs we would have – we would have to take incoming calls.
The phone rang – it was about 12:30 maybe one o’clock in the morning. I picked it up – you know you get some interesting calls that time of night into a newsroom – and I picked up the phone, and the caller said that they were across from the Hartford Civic Center and the roof had collapsed. And I immediately figured it was one of those calls that you, you know, you have to talk your way through, but, you know, you can’t chase every crazy person that calls at one o’clock in the morning.
So I got the person off the phone and another call came in, and they said that the roof collapsed, and then another, and another, and another. And every phone in the entire newsroom ringing – talking – with people calling, telling us the roof had collapsed.
I’m thinking that – at that moment – being a college student – I remember thinking this is an amazing dynamic. I work for a company – a business in this community – and an emergency of that magnitude has occurred, and we’re the ones that people want to call, probably right after the police.
They wanna’ tell us. Because they know we’ll do something. We’ll tell the story. We’ll take pictures. We’ll chronicle – article it.
Just watching those phones ring off the hook throughout all the desks in the newsroom, it just struck me that this is a unique place to be. And the people look at it as an institution – something they want to reach out to in times of trouble. And ever since that day I realized that there’s no other kinda’ company I could work for.