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[1975 • Xenia Daily Gazette • Local General/Spot News Reporting]

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XENIA STAFF WEATHERED ADVERSITY TO COVER STORM

On April 3, 1974, a devastating tornado struck the town of Xenia, Ohio, and left its inhabitants in shock, except for its newspaper. The Xenia Daily Gazette gave swift aftermath coverage of the tornado to the people of the town, despite being crippled themselves.

In 1975, the Xenia Daily Gazette’s team of 80 were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. Jack Jordan, the Gazette’s editor and general manager at the time, was among the staff to accept the award.

When the Xenia tornado struck, it killed 33, injured more than 1,000, and cost close to $100 million in damages. The newspaper was not unaffected by this. The roof of the main Gazette building was torn off, leaving most of its utilities unable to function.

Despite the devastation, the 80 employees of the Gazette gathered to publish the newspaper as quickly as they could. Of the 80 employees, 14 had lost their homes from the tornado.

The mechanical department of the newspaper went to work on patching the building up, as they had no functioning presses. The actual newspapers had to be printed outside of the town.

“Our whole saga is one of a lot of courage, guts and dependability for all 80 who worked here,” said Jack Jordan in an article by the Xenia Daily Gazette in 1975.

Today the Xenia Daily Gazette still thrives in its home town, with a roof over its employees.

by Rob Stephens
PULITZER ENTRY MATERIALS:

The submission’s cover letter tells how many Daily Gazette employees had their homes damaged or destroyed by the tornado and how the the roof was blown off the paper’s publishing plant. Despite all this, the staff carried on serving its community.

The paper’s submission includes coverage of the days and weeks following the tornado as the community struggled to recover.

MORE INFORMATION:

Meteorologist Rich Wirdzek, WHIO Dayton, gives a 1-minute overview of the details of 1974 Xenia tornado in this video segment on the 40th anniversary of the devastation.

Documentary: “Day of the Killer Tornadoes”

This documentary video presented by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency shows actual footage of tornadoes as they struck Xenia, Cincinnati and Louisville, Kentucky, on April 3, 1974.