Technological issues force cancellation of Dec. 26 edition of the BHC News

Thursday, January 2, 2020
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Many readers may have noticed there was not an issue of the Big Horn County News last week.

Due to several computer hardware issues we were not able to produce last week’s edition and our readers deserve an explanation.

On Monday afternoon, our network server stopped working. This is where all of our news stories, advertisements, photos and page templates are saved. Production halted until we were able to address this issue.

After a quick reboot of the server we were able to access the information saved on it. We began the long process of moving files onto external hard drives to free up space on the server so it could function better.

While that was happening Rusty LaFrance, our lone reporter, and I were able to save news stories, and photos for this week’s edition on one computer. Production began again and the temporary fix was working well. I spent a few hours after work building four and a half pages and it looked like we were going to hit our early Tuesday deadline.

On Tuesday morning, however, the computer I was working on would not power on. Apparently it crashed. After about an hour and a half of troubleshooting with the IT department the diagnosis looked grim.

I still held onto some hope, because most of the content was backed up on the server, which was finally up and running. But due to the Christmas holiday the printing staff had Wednesday off and the earliest we would be able to print was Thursday, Dec. 26.

After several conversations with the newspaper’s owner, the press manager and the IT department it was decided last week’s edition would be folded into this week’s edition.

As the general manager, I understand the need to provide timely and relevant news from our community and this week we were not able to fulfill our mission. I offer my apologies for missing an issue.

Our owners, Yellowstone Communications, are addressing the issues that caused so much disruption to our production process.

This incident really put my job in perspective.

There is talk across the country of the death of journalism, but in our community the newspaper is important. And every week with the odds stacked against us, we manage to get a newspaper out into the world.

I took the editor position at the paper because I believed in the power of the press. I believed in the ideals of the First Amendment. I know how a community newspaper can bring a community together.

I accepted the general manager position because I wanted to fulfill the goals that the late Jim Elshleman and I discussed and planned, still, a big part of me feels ashamed for missing the paper last week.

In most professions, when the computer crashes it doesn’t cause a chain reaction that results in angry phone calls every day for a week.

In all honesty, we did everything we could to try to save ourselves last week, but it didn’t work out. I’m prepared to move forward with several lessons learned, but that still doesn’t take the feeling of failure away.

Journalists put a lot of their self-worth in what they produce, whether it’s writing news, editing or page design. When things don’t go as planned it bruises the ego. I really want to stomp my feet and pout, but I must choose to let it go.

I’m still as committed as ever to this paper and our county and as this new year begins I pray to learn and grow personally and professionally. I pray my family thrives and continues to be successful in everything they do. I pray to learn to listen to my alarm clock. I pray to spend less time on the phone with people and more time in person with people. But most of all I pray I can make this publication the best one it can be, because our readers deserve the best.