Proceeds of Silent Auction Will Benefit Memorial to Victims and Survivors
Columbia, Mo. (March 7, 2012) — The Missouri School of Journalism is helping to organize the premiere of a film about The Joplin (Mo.) Globe‘s response to a devastating tornado that hit the town in 2011 as well as a silent auction to benefit Joplin.
Moments after The Globe covered the graduation program for local high school seniors on Sunday, May 22, the lives of Joplin residents changed forever. Life ended for more than 150 of them. An EF-5 tornado, the most violent kind, made a direct hit on the community of 50,000 in the southwest corner of Missouri.
Among the buildings squarely in the storm’s 13-mile-long furrow were the high school and the city’s main hospital. Both were damaged beyond repair as a third of the city, in a swath nearly a mile wide, blew apart when the massive vortex chewed through its center.
Then began The Globe’s duty to report on the storm and its impact on the community and the entire region. That duty became a mission for the newspaper, a mission to tell the stories about all of the tragedies and miracles, the victims and the heroes, the responses of neighbors and the world.
The story of how The Globe carried out that mission has been told in a film that will premiere on Thursday, May 3. “Deadline in Disaster,” produced by the Missouri Press Foundation, will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Missouri Theatre, Ninth and Locust streets in downtown Columbia. Tickets cost $10 per person.
A silent auction in the theater lobby to raise funds for Joplin will begin at 6 p.m. After the film, members of The Globe staff will answer questions from the audience. That will be followed by a reception for all attending.
The Joplin tornado eventually claimed 161 lives, as several people died of their injuries in the days and weeks after the storm. Among those lost on the day of the tragedy was a page designer for The Globe. A third of the newspaper’s staff lost their homes.
In spite of that, The Globe’s presses rolled that night. A few reporters made it to the newsroom. Some who couldn’t get there called in reports, not knowing whether their friends, families and colleagues were alive. Nearly all of the paper’s carriers showed up to deliver that first post-tornado issue early the next morning.
The newspaper’s staffers became acutely aware of their roles as information providers for the community. Residents came to depend upon The Globe for what they needed to know to make it through each day and to find a way forward.
That’s a message The Globe’s editor, Carol Stark, hopes people will get from the film.
“I hope they’ll be able to see how real newspaper journalists work in a crisis,” Stark said. “This is our job, our lives. It’s important to realize that we need these folks.”
Accurate, detailed information was critical, and it became difficult to determine who had credibility as more and more people wanted to become part of the story, Stark said. Rumor and speculation would have made the situation worse.
“What would we have done if we hadn’t had real journalists out there,” she said.
Joplin’s recovery continues, and The Globe reports on it.
“We’re covering it every day. That’s what people forget,” Stark said. “It becomes more urgent. We still have people who need to get into homes as the one-year anniversary of the disaster approaches.”
“I worry about the stories that I still don’t know about,” she said. “What do we need to get up and do tomorrow? That goes on in my mind.”
“It will be five years at least before this story no longer is top of mind,” Stark said.
The Missouri Press Foundation welcomes any sponsors and donations of items for the benefit auction that will be held in the theater lobby. Those interested can contact MPA by calling (573) 449-4167.
Beth Pike, BJ ’86, and Stephen Hudnell, BJ ’73, Emmy award-winning journalists from Columbia, directed “Deadline in Disaster.” Retired Associated Press correspondent Scott Charton, also of Columbia, assisted.
Orr Street Productions collaborated in the project, and Sandra M. Levy Smith of SmithLee Productions composed the music for the film.
The Missouri Press Foundation is the educational and philanthropic affiliate of the Missouri Press Association, the newspaper trade organization in the state. Virtually all of the newspapers in Missouri are members of MPA, which was founded in 1867 and is based in Columbia. Doug Crews, BJ ’73, serves as MPA’s executive director.
Updated: June 5, 2020