BLOG: Snowed in: an issue to remember

Snow falls in Hing Hay Park (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

When the snow descended, a bunch of nightmares came true for me. While many of you had no school or stayed home last week due to the snow, the Northwest Asian Weekly faced one of its worst crises in 30 years. “It will be the end of our reputation,” I thought. “We might not have the paper out. We’ve never missed an issue before.”

The majority of our staff members were no-shows last Wednesday, a critical time before going to press. The printing company called us to tell us that their workers were also snowed in. It was our 30th anniversary issue. How could we afford to be late?

The streets of Chinatown-International District, blanketed by snow (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

In the past, we have sweated because we didn’t have enough advertisements. Ironically, last week, we had the biggest issue of the year filled with Lunar New Year ads, and we almost didn’t make it!

You might say, what about the computers? Can’t you just network with each other to get it done?

Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post covers

But if folks cannot come in and run the computers, and if I didn’t know how to run them, we would have had problems.

There were 86 pages in total, including both the Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post. We wouldn’t be able to manage that with so few staff. Some might be able to work from their home computers, but if the power were to go out, we would be dead!

With staff at home, we couldn’t collaborate. Each page of the paper is meshed with tons of ideas and the result of collaboration. Each revision of a page gives the paper a better look, flow, color, and content.

Fortunately, everything we did on Wednesday was in sync. One client wanted to change his ad completely. Another called in and requested the same for hers. At first, I thought we were doomed. It turned out to be a blessing. I had to beg two brave soldiers to come, and we provided them rides. That decision saved the day. The rest of the staff worked from home.

In the end, we got the papers out on time. We were grateful to the City of Seattle that Chinatown/International District was armed with electricity, while more than 250,000 households in the Puget Sound area were out of power. That was one less problem we had to deal with.

Thursday was another challenge. The snow turned to ice, and our van did nothing but slide on Maynard Ave. S. We had to distribute papers on foot. My family and I distributed papers on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

There were many heroes in this crisis. Besides my staff, the post office, and postal workers, there were our subscribers, who let me know that they got their papers last Friday and Saturday.

And thanks goes to the weather forecasts from KING, KIRO, and KOMO TV that warned us about Wednesday’s disaster. Our folks worked late at night on Monday to get much of their work done before the snow hit.

The Year of the Dragon has had an interesting start, but it will inspire us to prevail without wasting time griping. When you read our Jan. 21 issue, just remember that we poured our blood and tears into it. Keep it as a souvenir! (end)

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