Power outage leaves Commercial Appeal unable to print Friday's edition

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An unexpected culprit is being blamed for a power outage that left Memphis' only daily newspaper unable to print Friday's edition.

"We've survived the ice storms, Hurricane Elvis...We've never not had an issue on the streets," Commercial Appeal Marketing Director Paul Jewell said.

But early Friday morning, something small brought the newspaper's presses to a halt.  According to an MLGW spokesperson, a small animal short-circuited a switch, which caused a power outage that lasted from 10:00 p.m. Thursday to 3:00 a.m. Friday.

Along with the Commercial Appeal, the outage affected power at Methodist Hospital and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.  But while in-house generators kept those hospitals functioning, the Commercial Appeal's generator was unable to power the newspaper's printing presses.

For the first time in the newspaper's history, not a single paper could hit the streets.

Unaware of the overnight outage, subscribers like Larry Campagna were surprised when Friday morning's newspaper didn't arrive.

"I didn't see it on the grass," Campagna said. "I went out to the sidewalk. I thought it might be on the sidewalk. It wasn't there."

After power was restored, the newspaper's phone lines went down, overwhelmed by thousands of calls from subscribers who hadn't received a paper.

"Part of my life is missing today," Campagna said. "Even during the heaviest snows and ices, the papers have always been delivered."

Subscriber Irvine Cherry drove all the way from East Memphis to downtown to pick up a paper - and get some answers.

"I could not get through on the phones to any department," Cherry said. "I tried over a half hour."

By late morning, newspapers finally began hitting the streets.

"This was a situation that was out of our hands and totally unavoidable," Jewell said. "We ask for their patience."

The Commercial Appeal was able to deliver 30 percent of its papers Friday.  If you didn't receive Friday's paper, Jewell said, it will be delivered Saturday morning, along with the normal Saturday edition.

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