September 12, 2017

The package came after the storm, but before the boil water order was lifted.

Since Hurricane Harvey hit, the Victoria Advocate has gotten care packages from other newsrooms, said editor Chris Cobler. But this one got him.

Inside the cardboard box full of goodies sat a card in a sky blue envelope. It read, in neat cursive:

Staff of Victoria Advocate

– From the Newtown Bee editorial department

Newtown, CT

The card inside had a single feather and just one word: Breathe. 

"It was just a really powerful, emotional message," said Cobler, who wrote on Monday about the package and what it meant

Inside, the handwritten message read, in part, "At the Newtown Bee, we have weathered storms of nature and those manmade. We were recipients in those difficult days of care packages and random acts of kindness that buoyed our spirits as we worked to deliver the news."

Thinking about what that newsroom and community had suffered after the massacre that hit that town in 2012 felt overwhelming to Cobler. He doesn't know anyone at the Bee. But he knows their work. 

The Advocate, like other Texas newspapers, is still reporting on the recovery process for the community, focusing on daily work and the bigger questions that stayed behind when the storm left. Some residents will remain displaced for months, if not years. 

"That's a story that we'll be telling for a long time," he said. 

On Tuesday, the newsroom brought in a counselor for a group session. Cobler has also encouraged staff to take advantage of three free counseling sessions the company offers. 

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And the newsroom is already looking out past their own community, too. They've taken up a collection to send something to a Florida newsroom after Hurricane Irma rampaged through. 

They're still thinking about what to send.

"I don't know how we can possibly match the note of Newtown, but definitely we want to send forward the spirit of journalists everywhere," Cobler said. "That's what really floored me – how strong that spirit is." 

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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