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Sussex Countian
  • COMMENTARY: Social media aids coverage of Hurricane Sandy

  • If there was ever any doubt as to the value of social media in our daily lives – and in this case an emergency situation – one only has to watch and listen to traditional media coverage of Hurricane Sandy.
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  • If there was ever any doubt as to the value of social media in our daily lives – and in this case an emergency situation – one only has to watch and listen to traditional media coverage of Hurricane Sandy.
    While watching the television coverage of this severe weather event, the reporters on several occasions referred to their smart phones that were conveniently placed on their desks.  One of the anchors asked his colleague about the latest conditions in Delaware County, Pa, upon which the co-anchor picked up her phone and began scrolling through her messages and relayed the information about flooding areas. The co-anchor read off nearly a dozen problem spots and warned the viewers to avoid those areas, and stay off the roads.
    The area’s media entities – including ours – had a number of reporters and photographers out in the field with cameras to capture images of this tremendous storm from Cape May to Atlantic City and from Rehoboth to Claymont in Delaware. But reporters can’t be everywhere at once, so the implementation of social media, in this case Twitter messages and Facebook videos added tremendous value to extensive coverage provided by the “traditional” media.
    In another newscast, the anchor sent the coverage over to a technology reporter who provided coverage that was not available, even a few years ago. The reporter went to the “Big Board” screen and displayed the Twitter messages from viewers about road conditions, flooding, etc. in their respective neighborhoods. 
    What proved to be incredible was the actual photographs of flooded streets, pictures of automobiles with water up to the door handle and most vivid, were several different pictures of houses that were severely damaged by fallen trees. The pictures, which in many cases, were taken only moments before, showed extremely large trees that had been toppled over by the heavy winds and crashed through roofs and windows of people homes. The reporter read the story about how a tree went through a window where an infant was sleeping. The child was taken to the hospital, but fortunately sustained only minor injuries.
    All of this extra coverage was provided by regular people, who used the latest in technology to help record today’s news, but further to help record a more extensive coverage of an historical event. Yes, the traditional media typically does a great job in covering natural disasters and hurricanes, but now, with an unlimited amount of concerned citizens, we are able to see the effects of storms in greater detail.
    In addition to the television coverage, the radio coverage, especially traffic reports, have bee a great help in clearing the roadways, as utility crews dispose of fallen wires or road crews repair newly created sinkholes or potholes on our roadways. Adding to the coverage, traffic reporters are frequently tweeted instantly about accidents, fallen wires and trees and disabled vehicles.
    Page 2 of 2 - Overall, the traditional media continues to shine when called upon to cover any type of special events, such as Hurricane Sandy, but the coverage is now much more localized and more extensive, thanks to the use of social media and a large group of concerned citizens. Look for social media to become even more pervasive in our lives in the future. Now, there is no excuse for people who claim to be unaware of a situation that may be affecting their lives. An individual only has reach for the television, radio or smart phone, to stay up with all the latest developments of storms like Hurricane Sandy.
     

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