News people love a big story, and that is what we got with the blizzard

Walking through the newsroom one afternoon last week, I passed photographer Derek Montgomery as he pumped his fist and let out a whoop. "Yes!" he said. "That means it's going to happen!" What, I inquired, was going to happen? "The storm!" he said...

Walking through the newsroom one afternoon last week, I passed photographer Derek Montgomery as he pumped his fist and let out a whoop.

"Yes!" he said. "That means it's going to happen!"

What, I inquired, was going to happen?

"The storm!" he said.

The National Weather Service had just issued a winter storm warning for later in the week. The upgrade from a watch to a warning, our photographer correctly surmised, meant the storm was now a sure bet. And Montgomery, one our newer staffers who is still experiencing all the joys of living in the Northland, was primed to cover a big winter blast.


Even if it was April.

Some of us who are ready for green and warmth rolled our eyes. But deep down, Montgomery's excitement bubbled in all of us. We're news people, and we love a big story -- even if it means hard work, long hours and immediate changes in plans with friends and family.

That's exactly what our April blizzard brought. Employees throughout the News Tribune pulled on our boots, snow pants and parkas and went to work. By the time it was done, we were tired. But as they say, it was a good tired.

We like big news because it sizzles with action, emotion and excitement. We get great quotes. Photographers such as Montgomery get great pictures. We get a chance to chronicle our community on a Friday that isn't just another Friday.

The snow is so thick you can't see. The wind and Lake Superior's waves are roaring. And Duluthians are making their way through it. Some are out playing in it.

More important, this is prime time for us to step up and serve you. We're in the business of providing information. Nothing gives us more of a kick than doing that.

So more than a dozen staffers from all News Tribune departments stayed downtown at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday night. It wasn't because we couldn't get home. We wanted a short commute so we could start with a bang Friday morning telling you the story of the blizzard, making sure you got your paper and answering your calls if you didn't.

Throughout our building and in the neighborhoods of our community on Friday, News Tribune people were doing their jobs, knowing you had a special need for information in the middle of a storm. What was closed? How many people were without electricity? What were some of the sweet stories and images from the blizzard?


I was impressed that our Circulation Department did as well as it did with deliveries through a storm that one official described as a "frozen hurricane." From managers to field reps to carriers, our circulators ventured out and did their jobs, even when travel was not advised. Thursday and Friday nights, the newsroom helped by moving our deadlines up an hour to give our colleagues extra time to make their rounds.

In the newsroom, the biggest change with big stories such as the blizzard is the opportunity we have to serve you on our Web site. We see huge spikes in viewership when big news breaks. You're telling us you want information right away. We have a powerful way to get it to you.

On Friday, News Tribune staffers were in before dawn writing, taking pictures and shooting video footage for As others made their way in -- outdoors writer Sam Cook did so on cross-country skis -- they immediately went to work on Web assignments.

At our 11 a.m. news meeting, where we usually start to assemble the next day's paper, we had so much newsgathering in the works, and had spent so much energy feeding our Web site,, that we had to go on faith that we'd come up with a plan later to fit it all into Saturday's paper.

I'm not sure that's ever happened before -- at least to that degree. But it tells me how big the Web has become in our world and yours.

By the end of the blizzard, all of us felt like Montgomery had days earlier. The storm was exhausting. But it also was exhilarating.

It's why we're in the news business.

Rob Karwath is executive editor of the News Tribune. You can reach him at 218-720-4177 or at .

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