We were wondering how to come up with a live, staff photo for the front page of today's paper. No one was planning on the "dom" coming from inside the Texan!
But there it is on Page One, documenting the evacuation of the Hearst building around 6:30 last night. This debacle was the result of a poorly planned building renovation project that had been plaguing the Texan staff for several days. Fumes from the product used to seal the floor of the former press room were powerful and pervasive throughout the building, but were not toxic.
Of course, that wasn't determined until after the police, fire personnel and an environmental safety crew all responded to the HSM building. Everyone was evacuated and the Texan staff relocated to a journalism lab in the CMA, thanks to the kindness of Dean Hart. However, that building was soon evacuated because of a pulled fire alarm. So everyone wound up back out in the plaza as the minutes ticked down toward deadline.
Ultimately, another attempt to use the J-school lab, once the CMA was reopened, proved too complicated. Fortunately, by then the air quality in the Texan office was determined to be suitable for human occupation, and the staff trundled back to its familiar surroundings around 8:30. Well behind schedule and slightly dizzy from the fumes, the Texan team got down to the business at hand and produced the fine final paper you see on the street today.
The flexibility and can-do attitude of the entire staff was most impressive. It would have been easy to say "screw it, this is ridiculous and it's the last paper of the semester" and just walk away. But the Texan people take what they do very seriously and they feel responsible to their readers and advertisers. So, under the calm and resourceful guidance of Managing Editor Claire Cardona, they did what they do and put the paper to bed.
I've been impressed by the work of entire staff this semester. Now, I can say I am proud. Only real professionals produce under the conditions we encountered last night.