Muncie Journal Publisher Reflects on Sept 11, 2001

Intranet project's homepage on Sept. 11th, 2001Intranet project's homepage on Sept. 11th, 2001

By: Mike Rhodes—


My name is Mike Rhodes and I am the Publisher and Managing Editor for the Muncie Journal. Thank you for being here.

I know everyone has strong, vivid memories of September 11th. You probably remember exactly what you were doing when you heard the news. And saw the images.

I’d like to share my memory of Sept. 11th with you, since this new Muncie Journal website initiative is very similar to what I professionally experienced back in 2001.

Sept 11th was a terrible day for our country. Professionally speaking, it was probably one of the most memorable moments in my entire professional career.

Back in 2001, I worked in the IT department of Cardinal Health System, Inc. (Ball Memorial Hospital.) I had just spent 16 months working on rolling-out the organization’s very first corporate intranet. (An intranet is a private, web-based portal viewable via a web browser inside a corporate network. It is not public. An intranet’s content is only viewable inside a company’s corporate computing network.)

The hospital’s intranet was named “CamiNET.” It went live on September 11th, 2001.

At the time, I telecommuted full-time from my home office in Muncie. About 9am on Sept 11th 2001, I walked into my living room and happened to notice NBC’s Katie Couric on my television. She was not her typical chipper self. She didn’t look happy. She looked scared. And her voice had a noticeable quiver to it.  So, I watched for a few minutes and learned about the attacks in NYC. Then my thoughts turned immediately to the hospital.

Approximately 3,500 people worked for Cardinal Health System in 2001. I knew many employees could listen to radio and hear about what was happening. I also knew many could not. Fewer could watch the events unfolding on live TV. Although computers were highly available throughout CHS offices, news websites like CNN and MSNBC were down and could not be accessed due to severe overloading. I  knew there were thousands of CHS employees wanting information about the attacks, but could not get it via traditional means.

I thought, “Maybe we could use this brand new corporate intranet to share information about what was happening in NYC with our CHS employees.”

I immediately started capturing brief video clips from national TV networks from my home office. Even though it was 2001, my home computers were connected to broadband Internet—connected to television tuner capture cards—and VPN connected to the intranet server in the BMH data center. I was able to “broadcast” video, pictures and copy of the events of the day straight to every CHS employee and office who had a computer and a web browser.

After a few minutes of having those images “live” on the intranet, I ran a hit report to see if anyone was viewing the content. I was astonished at what I saw. The intranet had thousands of hits within mere moments of the content being published.  About an hour later, I received a call from the hospital’s CIO, Tom Powers, who asked me to continue with what we were doing, but to be aware of the network’s bandwidth, so as not to slow down the network for mission critical, patient care services. Could I compress the video clips more to allow more bandwidth on the network? I said, “Yes” and we continued without any network slowdown.

The picture below is one I’ve kept since 2001 and illustrates the intranet’s homepage coverage the day of the terrorist attacks.

Intranet project's homepage on Sept. 11th, 2001

Intranet project’s homepage on Sept. 11th, 2001

For the next few days, I lived, breathed and published content non-stop about the terrorist attacks. We covered the BMH Blood Bank’s blood drive on Sept 12th, where hundreds of people came to the hospital to donate blood—because they wanted to “help” in some way. President Bush had asked people to donate blood. And Muncie residents did. The response was overwhelming. Emotional. Powerful. An outpouring like nothing I’d ever seen before.

I’m sharing my story of Sept 11th, because in many ways the intranet I rolled-out  in 2001, parallels these first few months of the I am amazed at how this new website is being accepted and viewed by users. The Muncie Journal is in its infancy. We are only 2 months old. Yet, we are seeing a tremendous response in views, content submissions and daily website activity.

I am very proud of our founding partners and very grateful to Woof Boom Radio for allowing me the opportunity to be involved with this initiative. I am very proud of our content providers who seem so genuinely happy to have Muncie Journal as a web-based resource for positive stories in and around Muncie and Delaware County.

So, thank you for being here today. We appreciate you.

And God bless our great country.

Today and always.

Mike Rhodes, Publisher and Managing Editor