Friday, August 31, 2007

Small newspaper follows a disaster

When staff members of The Conquistador, the biweekly student newspaper at Dodge City Community College in Kansas, put out the last newspaper of the spring semester they had no idea they'd be missing what is likely to be the biggest story of their college journalism careers.

On May 4, a tornado virtually obliterated Greensburg, Kansas, just 46 miles from the Dodge City campus.

The newspaper doesn't have a Web site yet, so it had no place to post stories. (Adviser Lionel Tipton says the staff is planning to launch a Web edition soon.)

The tiny staff pledged to follow the story when they got back to school. This week
The Conquistador offered a comprehensive report on the aftermath of the disaster.

"I am very proud of the way my two students handled this story and pictures," Tipton wrote in an email praising the efforts of Editor in Chief Mallory Anderson and photographer Josh Roesener. "Five of our 12 pages are devoted to Greensburg. The editor also addressed her feelings in a sidebar commentary piece."

The staff snagged an interview with the busy city administrator and wrote about nursing professors from the college who volunteered after the tornado hit. The paper also offered a look at the college's plan for a tornado, including a map of shelter sites.

"Of the 10 to 12 on our staff, only a few have any prior experience," Tipton says. "So for them to undertake this package was huge, in my opinion. They performed their duties without question or complaint, and the final product was quite satisfying."

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