By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director

Dennis Hetzel

I have to share this email I received this week from my colleague Michelle Rea, director of the New York Press Association, about how newspapers in New York are working together to serve their readers following the devastation of Sandy.

It will make your day, and it says so much about our business.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Press Association is seeking donations to help many newspapers and newspaper families profoundly affected by the storm.

Here is part of Michelle’s email:

“… we are working together, successfully, to help one another …  believe it or not The Jewish Week, publisher of five weekly Jewish newspapers in Manhattan, has been housing the staff of the mighty NY Daily News, whose building is completely flooded, and competing newspapers in Queens and Brooklyn have been sharing space, staff and equipment – miracles, each. The newspapers are amazingly resilient – one of the papers in the Rockaways published a 16 page paper last week and the other kept their website updated, despite losing all of their equipment and having their building under five feet of water. Anyone who no longer believes in newspapers should see the emails that our publishers are receiving from their grateful readers.

“One funny story – one of our larger publishing companies in Nassau County, Long Island, built a new, state-of-the-art plant several years ago, and the publisher built a shower in his office. The shower has never been used – until now. This week there is a steady stream of employees using the shower, blow drying their hair, etc. Most popular employee perk around.

“Today, more people are being evacuated in preparation for a Nor’easter that is predicted for this afternoon. Many of the trees that are still standing, still have leaves, so wet snow and high winds will not be good.

“Our biggest problem might be the gas shortage. Our employees can’t get to work (public transportation still a nightmare), residents aren’t going shopping or out to dinner because they don’t have gas, generators are running out of gas, and now we’re going to need gas to power snow plows and sanders. Regrettably, looting is the next biggest problem.

“We’ll see what tomorrow brings. In the meantime, thank you for your kind words and good wishes. Look forward to seeing you in December.”

George White, my counterpart in New Jersey, reports that “several members and their employees are really hurting here.” The New Jersey Press Foundation has set up a secure website for donations.

The page created on NJPA’s website, www.njpa.org/hurricanesandy, describes the basis for the effort in greater detail.

Please do what you can to help.

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