Besting computer meltdowns

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In the PGN you read last week, you most likely didn’t notice anything different. That in itself was a miracle. Earlier in the week, our internal server and triple back-up system had meltdowns. Imagine four components, which should work independently, all crash. Files we use each week to put the paper to bed were out of reach: templates, logos, house ads, our extensive photo file, previous editions and much more.

Our graphic and editorial staff started to hunt through our computer graveyard, old files and CDs, PDFs from our Web site — anything they could cannibalize and get material. At the end of the day, PGN, as it has in the last 33 years, made deadline — the only newspaper of any type in Philadelphia with that record.

If that were not enough, we also had the sales department is disarray. As many of you know, a few weeks ago, our longtime sales manager died after a long battle with cancer. And last week, we replaced his replacement and installed a new salesperson.

Putting it all together, we had a major computer meltdown, had to rebuild the paper from scratch and had a sales department with a new manager and a new ad rep. Three miracles.

At the end of this 10-day odyssey, PGN came out with this edition with breaking news as usual and the new sales department broke sales records — in the middle of a recession. Take a look at the size of the paper you’re reading right now and look at all the ads.

I’m writing this for several reasons: first, to thank my staff here at PGN. They really care about this product and how important it is to our community. They proved these last two weeks that they are some of the most — if not the most — professional in the Philadelphia newspaper industry.

When word got out about our meltdown, offers of assistance came from our brethren from Al Día, the weekly Spanish newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer and others. It’s nice to feel part of that community. As our sales reps were doing their daily calls, at times they’d explain the situation that PGN was working through, which led to many advertisers wanting to be in the paper to show their support.

For a newspaper that is often controversial, pointing out things you’d rather we didn’t or that you just plain disagree with, we’re used to being lectured to, but this week, we really felt the community’s love. And for the first time in my 33 years as publisher, I realized that even when you disagree with us, you’re still proud to have us as part of your community. Since we cover the community, we sometimes feel like we’re on the outside looking in. This week we were united.

I’ve mused about fate in this column before, and I honestly believe that, if there is such a thing, this newspaper is blessed. No matter what is tossed our way, we’ll not only survive, but thrive. It is our duty to cover the LGBT community and assist it in communicating and getting needed information and opinions out there for discussion. With the odds against us and with your help, we continued that tradition. I write this now, incredibly proud of and humbled by our staff here at PGN: Carol, Chris, David, Don, Greg, Jen, Kelly, Larry, Morgan, Sarah, Scott, Sean and Tim. Thank you all.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].