Opinion Columns & Blogs

Dear Reader | Hurricanes and coverage conundrums

Carolyn Murray, editor for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Carolyn Murray, editor for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

I know you know the feeling. Some days it feels like you’re playing a giant game of Whack-a-Mole, that arcade game in which you pay money to try to pound the head of a mole as it pops up in different spots across a grid?

Just when I thought I had crossword puzzle issues solved, a new one reared its head. This issue is from families with two crossword puzzlers in the household, one who likes the puzzle on the comics page, the other who does the tougher puzzle that usually appears in the Classified section. The problem is this: On some days, when the comics appear in the Classified sections, the two puzzles are back to back, making it tougher to share.

The sections are booked, or designed, based on how many ads there are and where they fall, so some days this placement is unavoidable. But I have alerted those who have the thankless task of solving the ad placement puzzle every day to the problem this presents so they can avoid it if at all possible.

Storm chasers

Lest you think all I think about are puzzle concerns, Hurricane Arthur presented a challenge for us last week in terms of journalism priorities.

We were pretty sure, based on forecasts and past experience, that the storm’s track wouldn’t cause a big problem here, but that didn’t mean folks didn’t want or need to know what was happening with it.

Had it been a major storm, we’d have assigned reporter/photographer teams to each end of the coast in our coverage area, and had someone in house responsible for updating social media posts and updating breaking news online. Someone else would handle editing the latest news possible for print, while another would stay late to keep the Web fed through the night.

That’s a lot of staff power and devoting it to a significant storm is a no-brainer. But when it’s not expected to be much more than a strong rainstorm, our job was in many ways more complicated. Our morning Web/public safety reporter and the two editors on duty Thursday did their best to keep things updated and moving on the main site and through social media, while still juggling other duties required to prepare for a long holiday weekend.

I explain all this because I’d like your thoughts. Did those efforts provide you the information you needed to know what was happening, and to make sure you could stay safe as the strongest part of the storm passed by? If not, what would have been more useful?

Would it have been better to send more regular text alerts to your cellphones? (If you haven’t signed up, scroll to the bottom of the homepage at www.myrtlebeachonline.com, click on the icon that says “Mobile” and it will walk you through the process.) We try to use texts judiciously, so that if you get one from us you know it’s worth the interruption.

As always, thanks for sharing your ideas and concerns. And thanks for reading what we work hard to provide.