No news is bad

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-10-03 Print this article Print

news"> Gary, how did Katrina affect your publishing operations?

Gunnerson: We do have a newspaper in Hattiesburg, Miss., thats had to suffer through all this stuff.

Gannett takes an interesting view any time we have an emergency. And we have them all the time—the hurricane is just an example of one. We have enough markets out there that we usually have one or two a year. We have a pretty good response, and that includes people. We basically ship people from all over the county to the location that needs them most.

Hattiesburg has a generator; it was mostly designed to run their press, so it wasnt quite up to everything we asked it to do. As a company, we still consider the employees to be most important and tell them, "Go handle your own affairs because thats whats most important to you right now."

Is that the strategy—to bring people who arent personally affected by the disaster in to take care of at least skeleton functions so local folks can worry about homes and families?

Gunnerson: Thats part of it. The other part is that we have a printing press one state over and trucks that we can bring in and that kind of thing. ... But do we plan for extended outages? Not usually. I dont think anyone plans for their generator to be their primary source of power.

As soon as you start talking about weeks, its qualitatively a different thing, isnt it?

Gunnerson: [Before] 9/11, no one ever asked us to completely back everything up out of the geographic area. After 9/11 was the first time people asked us to start thinking about that. Thats not a one-year or a two-year project; thats an eight-year or 10-year project. Weve made strides to go that way. Were not completely where we need to be yet, but weve certainly made a lot of progress.

Do you feel that the decision to do that was a sticky decision—did people continue to be committed to the idea of doing it three and four years after 9/11?

Gunnerson: I think so. What were seeing, though, is that once you say you need to be outside of your geographic area, you start looking at more centralized approaches to some of your infrastructure, or the ability to move some things fairly quickly using the different technologies that we have out there. Were playing around right now with some of the VMware [Inc.] stuff that lets you move a computer system to another physical location. Its pretty neat.

Because you essentially snapshot the system and then move the snapshot?

Gunnerson: Right. You still have the issue with people, though. ... In some cases, we can run the systems from our homes, but in the case of a disaster like weve had with [Katrina,] you dont even have homes to go to anymore. You pretty much have to go out of state, and thats a pretty tough thing to plan for.

I dont really know how you plan for that sort of thing. Its just something thats going to happen, and you do your best after the fact to recover from it.

Next Page: Insurance policy.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel