By Denise Tessier
There probably wasn’t enough room for it, Monday’s Albuquerque Journal was so thin. Nonetheless, it was disappointing there wasn’t even a two- paragraph brief explaining Sunday’s four-hour power outage in the East Mountains. Calls to PNM’s recorded message Sunday (June 24) indicated the electricity provider was experiencing “multiple outages” and “widespread outages” in my zip code.
Mountain residents likely will get an explanation later from the local weeklies – Wednesday from The Independent and Thursday from the Mountain View Telegraph – but to find out sooner involves looking online — something many of us couldn’t do Sunday during the outage.
Writing this column, it’s natural to continuously observe the ongoing evolution in accessing news — from print to Internet, from metro coverage by the Journal to increasingly fractured zone editions and the eventual return to local weeklies for one’s geographically immediate news.
Powered up on Monday, a visit to the Journal’s online Newseeker, revealed, as usual, more news than Monday’s print version of the paper. But news of the outage did not come up on the abqjournal.com site.
A visit to KOB-TV.com, however, revealed a story one would normally consider newsworthy enough for the Journal. The headline was “All East Mountain customers lost power Sunday” and the brief story reported that:
More than 7,400 people were without power in the East Mountains on Sunday, PNM officials said. Officials said a broken transmission line is the cause of the outage for all East Mountain customers. Reportedly, a bolt in the transmission line failed and sparked a small brush fire around 4:30 p.m. The fire was quickly extinguished. Crews resolved the issue and had power restored by 8:30 p.m.
It was the second time in less than two months this writer has started dinner by candlelight (using propane for cooking). Last time the even longer outage was caused by wind. It reportedly affected 7,300 people and was covered by the Journal.
Now with this second outage — and with PNM so often in the news, mostly with regard to rates or environmental regulation – it would seem natural that a reporter (who has time) might consider following up on some of the questions raised by readers commenting on KOB online: Is the “old 46kV line” a PNM problem in need of upgrade? If the fire hadn’t been extinguished, would PNM be liable due to allegedly faulty equipment? Is the Central New Mexico Electrical Co-op doing a better job with two lines than PNM is with its one?
Here’s an ironic footnote to the outage story/lack of story:
While the power was out – unable to go online – this reader gave a more in-depth perusal to the Sunday Journal, including the top story in its Living section, which turned out not to be a story after all. At the top of the page, “Charity Gala brings touch of glamour” was the headline, but what followed was yet another pitch by the editor of the Journal’s Sage magazine encouraging print readers to visit the magazine’s web site. The story’s first two graphs:
From the glamorous photos of the Mayor and First Lady’s Charity Gala on the Sage magazine website, clearly it was quite the event.
You haven’t been to abqjournal.com/community yet? Absolutely check it out. You’ll see 40 images of many familiar Albuquerque faces who came out for a glitzy black tie event. The event raised money for Art in the School, Keshet Dance Company and the United Way of Central New Mexico.
The rest of the “story” listed other things a reader would find on the site.
As mentioned before on ABQJournalWatch.com, the online Sage has great potential as a community forum and can hold for many a lot of value in terms of content once there. And if you’re one of the increasing number of readers perusing the Sunday Journal on an e-reader device, it’s no problem to jump over to the site and see pictures of the mayor and first lady at the Charity Gala.
But for the paper reader, the subject matter in the print-version pitch has got to enticing enough to motivate you to get up and go to the computer. And when you’re a print reader in a power outage, it’s got to be enticing enough to get you to look later, when the power’s back on.
During a power outage, both reader and online magazine are outta luck.