Sources by the Thousands


It is clear, people turn to social media during major news events, not just to get updates from others, but to post their stories, pictures, and videos from their community.  Viewer content has become a vital element in delivering the news for a story of this magnitude, and the viewers are only one element in this social media equation.  Government organizations, power companies, The American Red Cross, and utility companies are just the few examples of the “other elements” telling the story through social media.


Reporters who are spread out all over the world are finding the world a much smaller place through social media.  Content sharing through re-tweets is another element in this equation.  Working journalists who have worked through this transition into the “social world” are beginning to see, over-and-over again, the place social media has in a newsroom.

Evan Forrester, the Assistant News Director and Anchor at FOX43 in Harrisburg, PA says, “We were on for 30 straight hours.  We used social media if FEMA or PEMA posted something on their twitter accounts, so we were able to get that information out to the viewers.  So it was a two-way street.  While we were showing the Governor’s press conference live, I was sending tweets out on power outages…when power might be restored…how many emergency centers were having all those extra sources out there helps us to tell a bigger story.”

“We were told to get stuff as it’s happening.  We were using social media to find out where these things were happening.  We found a family being rescued by boat through social media, adds FOX43 multi-media journalist, Jessica Reyes.


Live chats and live blogs are also up and running through this storm.  It’s another way the media is engaging its audience to participate in the coverage.  Tonight, I’m seeing some affiliates posting road closures, popular Sandy hashtags for twitter, 9-1-1 incident reports, and power outages.  There are also some good chats going on between people within a community.


Risking Too Much to Tweet a Picture?

Viewer participation in news coverage has become such a big phenomenon, it warranted a statement from Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett.  Before Sandy arrived, Gov. Corbett strongly urged us, that as we are riding out the storm, we should not put ourselves in harms way to take pictures and videos for the news.

It’s a slippery slope.  News organizations know people are taking pictures and videos, so they do ask them to share those pictures.  After receiving some sharp criticism during Tropical Storm Lee coverage, the media has toned down the request for pictures.  While they all still ask, they are certain to make it very clear that no one should put themselves into harms way to get the pictures for the newscast.


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