A makeshift newsroom, charter planes and copies delivered by helicopter were part of a Herculean effort by Fairfax Media for its readers following this week’s devastating earthquake in New Zealand.
The 7.8 quake struck just after midnight on Sunday and caused landslides, tsunami warnings, building collapses and two fatalities.
The disaster didn’t stop Fairfax getting all its papers out and attracting an audience of 3.6 million on stuff.co.nz on Monday – up from its daily average of a million.
Close to the quake’s epicentre – and 180km north of Christchurch – is tourist town Kaikoura, which suffered cuts to power and water and isolation as landslides blocked vital roads.
As residents were evacuated, Fairfax journalists were helicoptered in in teams of two: one reporter, one visual journalist.
Fairfax NZ executive editor Sinead Boucher said it was a huge logistical challenge but the company was committed to keeping readers informed.
“They have to go in with all their food, water, tents, sleeping bags, everything because there is no water, sewerage, communications or anything in the town,” she said.
Copies of Christchurch daily paper The Press were also flown in to Kaikoura and a special edition of weekly Kaikoura Star was printed.
The papers went like hot cakes.
“We distributed them all for free just to make sure people of that town knew what’s going on,” Ms Boucher said.
“Obviously they had no power. Without being able to log on to the internet or TV or radio – unless they had extra batteries – we realised how important the printed newspaper was.”