Conquering Snowpocalypse

Online media jumps ahead to the rescue

As “Snowpocalypse 2011” hit last week Wednesday, it left thousands across the country snowed in and unable to continue with their daily lives.

The big storm left many schools cancelled, thousands unable to drive to work, and cities all across the Midwest under a blanket of fresh powder. In Big Rapids, Ferris State University cancelled classes and many students took the day to catch up with friends, schoolwork, and sleep.

As for the Torch, the snowdrifts and the extreme temperatures did not sit well with the paper’s distribution. This, however, did not slow down people from reading the current issue of the Torch; each week the full newspaper is published at for readers not only in Big Rapids to see, but all across the world.

As the multimedia editor, I am slightly biased on online news, but in cases like yesterday, it is easy to see how useful the online edition can be. Online news has the ability to update instantly and give instant feedback on the storm and school closings. Students know this all too well, as they wore out their refresh buttons wondering if Ferris was going to be next on the school closings list.

When I woke up, I made sure to update the Torch website and inform people that the print edition was not going out. As I was doing this though, it made sense to just switch the whole paper online. Online media, for the most part, will always be accessible, as long as there’s a solid Internet connection and a medium to view the source.

Putting the whole paper online though would cut out a wide audience who do not have constant access to the Internet and many people who are on the go. However, I believe we are on our way to receiving news fully online, especially with sites that are optimized for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Brandon Martinez, the previous year’s web editor, knows all too well how to benefit from working online. Brandon takes the long commute of 23 steps from his bedroom to his downstairs office.

“Working remotely is one of the greatest perks about my job; not having to deal with normal commuting, being able to have my own office environment, and being able to live where I want is amazing. I can only hope other Ferris grads can find a similar gig,” said Brandon.

Brandon works at Independent Printing in De Pere, Wis., but telecommutes his services as a programmer from his home in Ludington. Every few months he has to make the trip to the company for on-site meetings, but working remotely allows him to live closer to his family and friends in Michigan.

Since the boom of the Internet age, the idea of telecommuting has popularized. According to, in 2008 5.9 million people worked mostly at home. This gives people the comfort of working in a fully customizable workstation while saving money on gas.

The idea of telecommuting is not for everyone, mainly because a lot of the workforce needs the physical face-to-face contact. It is a luxury for some, but can be a pain for others, because workers rarely work on individual projects at work. A lot of collaboration needs to be done to successfully work and accomplish a well-finished product on time.

With new technology though, the gap is shrinking between what we can and cannot do from our own homes. The ability to work from home could be an option for a lot of people in the coming years. So the next time the next big snowstorm hits, are we really snowed in? n