NEW YORK (AP) — The Daily News got its Plan A and its Plan B eviscerated by Hurricane Sandy. The storm knocked out of commission the newspaper’s Manhattan main office and the place where it planned to work during emergencies — its Jersey City, N.J., printing plant.
Help from other news outlets let the Daily News keep publishing its daily print edition and its frequently updated website throughout Monday’s storm. On Thursday evening, a Daily News editor said the newspaper would resume printing at the Jersey City plant within hours.
But it was unclear how long the main office would be out of use. The office, in an evacuation zone near the Staten Island Ferry, was flooded and lost power.
Ted Young, editor of Daily News Online, went into work at the main office at 6 a.m. Monday dragging an air mattress, expecting to spend the night. He did, but it wasn’t quite how he imagined.
At about 8:45 p.m., the lights went out, he said. Another hour later, the computers were down. The phones went out, and so did most cellphone coverage. Young and about 15 other staffers waited through the night, smelling gas and watching the front lobby fill with 3 feet of water.
But even then, the newspaper kept updating, Young said. That’s because Lauren Johnston, an editor who had gotten stuck in Pittsburgh, updated the website as reporters throughout the city sent her updates.
Back at the darkened main office, a few staffers made an escape through the lobby around 2 a.m. The rest trekked out around 7 a.m., through a lobby that was wet but no longer flooded.
Young said that website traffic surged on Monday evening, making the ordeal worthwhile.
“Our main concern,” he said, “was how do we keep letting New Yorkers know what’s going on.”
He never did get to use the air mattress: He neglected to inflate it before the power went out.
On Tuesday, he and a few other staffers moved into borrowed space in The Associated Press’ newsroom in midtown. Others worked from other temporary offices or spread out around the city and worked from wherever they could find wireless signals.
While the Daily News printing press was down, rival newspapers including The New York Times, Newsday and Newark, N.J.’s The Star-Ledger agreed to help print copies and perform some of the company’s other commercial printing work, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Daily News, a pugnacious tabloid that has one of the highest circulations among U.S newspapers, is owned by American Media Inc., which also owns fitness and celebrity magazines including Shape and OK!
The newspaper was responsible for one of the most famous headlines in journalism. “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” it wrote after President Gerald Ford wavered on a bailout for the struggling city in 1975.
On Thursday, the Daily News ran a front-page photo of firefighters hoisting an American flag in a flooded part of Queens under the headline “Stormin’ Back.”
Young said that the Jersey City plant was to print Friday’s newspaper Thursday night.
The main office, meanwhile, was still deserted except for a clean-up crew. Hoses pumped water from the front lobby onto the street. The front doors were covered in yellow caution tape, but a supervisor there said that Daily News staffers might be allowed in Friday to pick up belongings.