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The day the Internet died


It is approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday when I notice the Internet connection at the Student Media Center is down. I ask the newsroom, and learn that this is a campus-wide problem.

“Let me tweet that,” I say. Of course, I then remember I’m in the Dark Ages with my cell phone and the Internet is down, so I scratch that idea.

Thirty minutes later, I get the RebAlert letting me know that the problem is with AT&T in Jackson.

We wait it out, and 4:30 p.m. arrives — that’s budget time on Tuesday, where we would normally talk about the next day’s paper. No one, except city news editor Mallory Simerville, has read any of the stories, however. Mallory got an early start that day, beginning well before 2 p.m. because of a 6 p.m. meeting. The other stories are trapped in email accounts we can’t access from work.

With her stuff in, we know we are going to lead with a state story about jobs coming to Mississippi. Photography editor Petre Thomas and I have been working to put together a map showcasing where recent industrial jobs are going throughout the state.

The Internet is still down when I go to my Media Law class at 5:30 p.m. Once I am in class, I get a second RebAlert claiming that the two fiber optic wires that provide sweet Internet-y goodness to the university have been cut. Text messages by the dozen start coming to my aforementioned Dark Age phone, and it promptly freezes.

Eventually, I ask and receive permission to be excused from class when managing editor Emily Roland gets a text through asking me to call her.

She has it all figured out. We’ll package everything, use our laptops (two have InDesign CS5) and head over to design editor Kelsey Dockery’s house, where a Metrocast cable modem awaits. I give my OK, even though I know they’ll do it no matter what I say.

I am then told to calm down and return to class. I listen to at least one of those demands. As I’m sitting in class, the Internet comes back on at around 7:30 p.m. While it dies again shortly, I’m able to send them an inside story that they already have.

Media Law lets out late at 8:10 p.m., and I promptly call for directions.

Getting to the area was simple enough, but I only end up finding the door with the pumpkin in the window after I go down every other possible road in the subdivision.

The copy editing team is sitting on the floor using the design editor’s laptop and the flash drive that has all of our material packaged. Even though we have a total of 5 laptops in the room, we are going to have to take turns with the content. I prepare to wait. After over 6 hours, I get to fully check my email. I have well over 20 emails, not counting the few I was able to check briefly during class (sorry Mr. Tyner!).

Emily is doing her homework, and I think about it, but then remember that my books are back at the office. I keep reading emails. Deadline is at 1 a.m.

At 9:30 p.m., the design editor finally gets the flash drive and immediately starts asking questions about CS5. She is used to CS3, which is what we have in the office.

“The text options should be there,” I say. “It is there on mine.”

After I say this, I log out of Facebook, realizing that I am about to have to give up my computer and don’t want another status posted on my Facebook by a colleague.

I move over to the kitchen, get more coffee, and start helping Petre finish the graphic. Design is going slowly; again, she is used to CS3. Deadline is at 1 a.m.

It is 11 p.m. when I get the flash drive. With all the content placed, Emily has limited ability to tweak design. At midnight, Emily and I switch roles and computers.

It is 12:30 a.m. when Emily leaves and we have all of the edits placed. Some stories are shorter, some are longer, and we have to make design tweaks again to make sure all of the content is on the page and there aren’t any big gaping holes of white space.

Kelsey is falling asleep on the couch when I ask her to look over design one last time. It is 12:55 a.m. Deadline is at 1 a.m.

It is 12:58 a.m. when I upload the PDF to our printer’s website. Typically, this process takes 30 seconds from our beautiful fiber optic setup at the Student Media Center. It is going to take 11 minutes from Kelsey’s house. You can do the deadline math.

It was approximately 1:10 a.m. when I click submit. I get home at 2 a.m., do some of my homework and am perhaps asleep by 3:30 a.m.