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Newspapers Are Designated Non-Essential

The Blizzard of ‘96 made front-page headlines across the nation. But many readers in the eye of the storm didn’t see them, after the state restricted the travel of newspaper employees.

Facing record snowfall in many parts of the state, Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker restricted road travel to “essential” workers Monday in 39 counties. Broadcasters were deemed essential, but newspaper employees weren’t.

Schweiker’s decision idled delivery trucks for many newspapers around the state, preventing them from delivering the big story to readers.

“I think that’s just absolutely reprehensible,” said Dennis Hetzel, editor and publisher of the 42,000-circulation York Daily Record. “It’s absolutely inappropriate for the lieutenant governor to make a special exception for one group of the media and not for another.”

Many papers missed a delivery for the first time in their history.

Schweiker defended the decision, saying officials were interested in “those who can quickly broadcast conditions, knowing we were beset with some very challenging conditions, life-threatening situations.”

“Broadcast journalists were clearly part of the emergency response system,” said John Comey, of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

“That’s different from getting a newspaper the next day.”

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