The night the lights went out...

Dateline: Mon 14 Jan 2008

Here is an inside explanation for what went wrong Saturday involving the Star -- which I hope will help readers understand why the Saturday and Sunday Star's metro/state sections were repeats of each other.

Says the source:

"....computer issues that caused the failure. The server

that runs CCI (the multinational computer architect system that publishes the Star and many other U.S. papers) died around 8:45.." Other networks died as well, including the system to send e-mail back and forth. All IT people were on hand trying to get the system up and running.

In the end, pages had to be 'built' on Macs and taken through additional steps to get to plates.

The bulldog -- first edition -- was run around midnight in order to get papers on the trucks. However, with all the problems, it took until 5 a.m. before all the press runs were completed.

This insider also addresses the concern that repeating an earlier Bulldog edition never happens.

"Every large paper now does a 'Bulldog' paper on Saturday and most of these pages are picked up again in the real Sunday paper the next day."

Nobody at the paper reall wanted to run the Bulldog as a Sunday paper, and some actively opposed the decision. But in the end, there was no choice.

"The night and the paper were both ugly," says the insider, who anticipates "a lot of finger pointing and meetings over the next couple of weeks to prevent this from happening again."

There is also speculation that most advertisers will get a freebie for the day.

CCI is an expensive, well-respected system, used extensively here and abroad. Its rep is that it has a lot of bells and whistles. It is not trouble-free, but as the mother of two techies who have spent many nights and weekends unscrambling computer problems, I respect that, to a certain extent, problems come with the package.

That said, it is obviously very frustrating, and very public, when it happens with the state's No. 1, largest newspaper.

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