KRTV News in Great Falls, Mont., has exactly one full-time reporter, Kay Rossi, on the Monday-to-Friday local news beat. So when Ms. Rossi called in stranded — snowbound with family in Connecticut, uncertain when she would be able to get back West — the tiny station’s managers were thrown into a staffing crisis. Then they improvised: They made her plight a news story.
A telephone interview from the newsroom direct to Ms. Rossi’s aunt’s house in East Lyme was featured on Monday’s 5:30 p.m. broadcast. Breathless updates were posted on the station’s Web site — “Kay Rossi still trying to return to Great Falls” was the headline posted Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Ms. Rossi, 25, was put to work posting messages on Twitter and her Facebook page about the storm, the travails of dealing with Delta Air Lines, and her aunt’s car, which was stuck in the snow.
Ms. Rossi’s boss, Heath Heggem, KRTV’s content manager, said in a telephone interview that a missing staff member in a news department of 10 people, including weather and sports, left a big hole. Ms. Rossi, who is originally from upstate New York, typically files up to four stories a day on the doings of Great Falls, from crime to education to economics.
She is hoping to be back in Montana by Friday afternoon.
“It puts a little bit of a strain on things,” Mr. Heggem said, “but it’s what you have to do in small markets sometimes.”