It has been heartening to see readers responding so favorably to the outstanding fire coverage that the World staff has delivered throughout the tragic wildfires that have ripped through North Central Washington.
I asked Editor Cal FitzSimmons to provide some highlights that show the dedication and drive of our staffers. The following will give you some insight into what it takes to deliver the news in a major disaster. FitzSimmons wrote:
"The newsroom has had many outstanding efforts during the fires, including K.C. Mehaffey, who has been providing constant fire updates despite being without power and cell phone service to her home outside Twisp. Many times, she has had to drive 20-plus miles to dictate her stories or visit fire camps that could not be reached by phone.
Last Thursday evening, Michelle McNeil and Mike Bonnicksen scrambled to Pateros as the fire devastated that town. Mike actually was on scene as homes burned. Michelle filed a story from Chelan High School at 2 a.m. Friday as stunned evacuees were streaming in.
Friday morning, Mike Irwin and Bonnicksen returned to Pateros, where they filed a story and photos in time for Friday's paper. Don Seabrook, meanwhile, used his contacts to get a flight over the town. That meant flying through smoke with zero visibility much of the time. After they returned the pilot refused requests from TV stations to fly into the area again.
Christine Pratt filed regular updates online and on social media throughout the weekend. Our news interns, Holly Thorpe and Bridgett Dowd have been busy updating our news ticker on the home page and Holly has been updating regularly the list of ways people can help.
(News Editor) Rachel Hansen handled the
ressure of many late stories and photos Friday and produced an outstanding front page. We were 45 minutes late filing the last page but the press crew and carriers helped make up the time. Those are just some of the efforts that have been outstanding.
Rick Steigmeyer has been charting fires outside the big one and Dee Riggs has filed several fire-related stories and much more."
We also had a lot of help from Digital Manager Andrea Andrus, social media coordinator Russ Alman, copy desk editor Kelli Scott and others in feeding the social media beast. In truth, every person in the news operation helped in some way.
I couldn't be prouder of a group of individuals than our news staff. Also, our carriers deserve praise for going above and beyond to get readers the latest news in a timely fashion.
You can count on us to keep you on top of this incredible story.