Faced with mass shooting and then fires, Thousand Oaks’ newspaper keeps community informed

On Wednesday night, Kyle Jorrey looked over the final version of the newspaper and decided it was ready for print. It had been a long day of reporting after the local elections, and he told his staff he might take Thursday off.

Jorrey is the editor of the Thousand Oaks Acorn, a weekly paper that comes out every Thursday. The paper is part of a family of publications that cover nearby communities, including Simi Valley, Camarillo and Agoura Hills.

But after Jorrey got home, he heard about the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting. He rushed to the scene and worked till 4 a.m. to get a story up on the paper’s website. He then texted his two reporters: “When you wake up tomorrow, you’re going to be facing the biggest story you’ve ever faced.”

His reporters worked overtime to cover what was undoubtedly the worst news event in Thousand Oaks in decades. And then the next day, they stayed up late into the night while fires raged in the region and led to hundreds of evacuations. Some of his staff were evacuated. The collision of these news events is unbelievable, especially as evacuations create more problems for his staff to deal with, he said.

“There’s just nothing to compare it to,” said Jorrey.

Jorrey’s home wasn’t evacuated, but he managed to get only a few hours of sleep on Thursday night. He was glued to the TV, but not for work this time. He wanted to make sure fire wasn’t barreling toward his neighborhood.

As the fires moved unpredictably on Thursday night, many locals tweeted Jorrey, asking him if their homes were burning. He and his reporters tend to provide more granular coverage of evacuation zones, street closures and damaged neighborhoods than other media outlets, something many have thanked him for on social media.

Jorrey chuckled thinking about how he reacted when he first got the news of the fires. He didn’t want to cover it. He has only two reporters and they were exhausted. But eventually he came around.

“When a story like that happens, you just can’t turn away from it,” he said. “You’ve got to do it.”