We report Irene with a little help from our friends

August 27, 2011|Liz Thompson

As Hurricane Irene came storming in from the Atlantic and weather watchers began predicting her path along the East Coast, The Herald-Mail digital team helped our readers learn more about her arrival by tapping into information from a Roanoke, Va., television station.

WDBJ-7 in Roanoke is a sister company, owned by Schurz Communications Inc. as is The Herald-Mail.

Their staff of meteorologists has been paying a lot of attention to Hurricane Irene and we were able to tap into their expertise, pulling information from their website and including it on our own.

Weather maps, weather predictions and even a live stream from a camera set up at Virginia Beach, Va., gave our website visitors the latest on Hurricane Irene. You can see the coverage by going to and clicking on "Special storm coverage: Hurricane Irene," on the top of the page. I'm writing this on Friday afternoon, so by the time you read this on Sunday, the camera set up at the beach may have been washed into the sea or blown away — but the rest of the coverage will be there.

We've been tapping into the television station's knowledge a lot lately as we develop our own online and cable news broadcast.

WDBJ-7 lent us their expertise when we set up a new studio in The Herald-Mail building on Summit Avenue.

We've had a small studio, literally created in what used to be a conference room, for several years now. We used it to tape a daily news segment that we air on televisions mounted in the food court at the Valley Mall. We also used it when we wanted to interview newsmakers, to produce commercials and to stream live events such as election night coverage. But it was very small, had a very low ceiling and made interviews with more than one or two people difficult to do.

The new studio is three times the size, has a high ceiling and room enough to create a control booth.

The new studio is in the old front lobby of the building where our telephone receptionists used to sit. We've enclosed the lobby with a glass wall, but you can see our stage, news set, control booth, lights and cameras as you walk into the building.

We're working on some really fun and interesting programming, including an expanded news production. You can get a look at what we're doing by going to and clicking on "Watch HM Headline News" on the right side of the homepage just under our Red Hot Deals.

The 10 year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack is just days away. It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since that horrifying day. I literally remember details of that day like it was yesterday.

The Herald-Mail will publish a series of stories as we approach the anniversary. If you would like to pay tribute to those who died in the attacks, or to those who have served our country in the military in the days since the attacks, send your thoughts to  Include your name and the town in which you live.

Please limit your correspondence to 100 words or less. We'll post your tributes on our website and publish some of them in the newspaper.

Our coverage of the 10-year anniversary has already begun. Go to the website and click on 9/11 in the navigation bar under "Home," or in the yellow Hot Topics bar.

Remembering that day — and many of the days that followed — is hard to do. There are images I'd rather not see again, and so many people who were killed, injured or traumatized.

But there is a feeling I do like recalling.

For a short period of time, we weren't Republicans or Democrats. We weren't liberals or conservatives. We weren't divided by our stance on gay marriage or a universal health care system or any of those issues that still divide us today.

We were Americans, standing together, comforting each other and vowing to stay strong.

I remember that.

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