Last Friday, a friend, former colleague and photojournalist in Missouri contacted me on Facebook to make sure I was safe after Hurricane Sandy.
I told her I was exhausted, but safe. "Please come to AC," I invited in my FB response. She responded: "Would like to one of these days. I may have to give it a few years for them to piece the boardwalk back together first ..."
Pound fist on desk.
Bang head against wall.
Pull hair out due to frustration about a myth perpetuated by the national media and others.
Shameful. That's the only description for the so-called journalists who assumed, because a small piece of a rotting section of the Boardwalk (scheduled for demolition) fell into the ocean, that the whole Boardwalk was destroyed.
"Good Morning America" reported that misinformation during the storm.
Time magazine did so in its Nov. 12 issue (a photo of an old exposed stretch of seawall is accompanied by the caption: "Atlantic City's boardwalk is washed away.")
Even Atlantic City Weekly in a cover story this week starts with: "The Atlantic City Boardwalk will never be the same."
I reflected on the gross irresponsibility of such reporting and, at the same time, looked out over my newsroom with admiration and respect for the job done by my staff at The Press of Atlantic City and PressofAtlanticCity.com.
"The work by reporters, photographers, editors, copy editors and others over the last two days was excellent and devoted. Amazing group of journalists! Thank you, all. We did not miss a publishing day. As you sit back now, reflect on the enormity of your accomplishments. Truly amazing," I congratulated the staff in a note on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
We lost power at our Pleasantville plant on Tuesday, Oct. 30, but our editors worked on laptops from our business office, and the paper on Wednesday was printed - we believe for the first time - on presses other than our own.
Our audience also turned to us on PressofAtlanticCity.com: Normally we hit 4 million page views a month. On Monday, Oct. 29, as Sandy arrived, we reached just over 1 million views, and on Tuesday we hit 1.4 million.
What is so moving about this whole experience is the impact on the lives of residents who lost most, if not all, of their possessions. And almost as moving is the human response from those in our region who immediately began to reach out to the unfortunate and provide relief. "How can I help?" became the mantra. You are a generous, sincere and caring group of people who simply do what you do and never look for thanks. But, "thank you" anyway.
At The Press, we want to play any role we can in the relief effort. If you have any ideas, let me know at email@example.com.
Today on the front page we are starting an ongoing feature aimed at Hurricane Sandy victims. However, the feature will continue in our pages and on our website as long as it is useful.
Nonprofits, charities and other organizations doing good in the community are invited to tell us what they need, and we will try to play a role in putting you together with those who can provide it.
Blankets, food, medical supplies, toys - whatever. Let us know, and we will give the public a way to get in touch. We also will feature the list on our website, which has a huge audience from outside the region. Click here for the list: http://bit.ly/TCdg9d
The feature is called Press It Forward (a play on "pay it forward" from lead local editor Peter Brophy). Tell us what your group needs, and we will publicize it. Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Michelle Post, who covers charitable activities for us, is heading up the project.
This effort grew from a meeting of employees and managers who wanted to do more to help with relief. It's a fabulous idea and nothing particularly complicated to execute.
After the Hurricane Sandy relief, we hope this feature will stay alive, as there are always those in need in our community.
As always, thanks for being loyal readers and audience members. We value every one of you.
Neill Borowski is executive editor and content director of The Press of Atlantic City and PressofAtlanticCity.com.