Wednesday, 24 October 2007

It's an ill wind...

There's nothing like a forest fire story for moving web news forward. We've had our own equivalents here recently and it's brilliant for helping focus the mind on what news is really about.

Martin Stabe reports how a San Diego TV station:

has responded to the crisis on its patch by taking down its entire regular web site and replacing it with a rolling news blog, linking to YouTube videos of its key reports (including Himmel’s), plus Google Maps showing the location of the fire.

There are links to practical information that their viewers will need at this time, including how to contact insurance companies, how to volunteer or donate to the relief efforts, evacuation information and shelter locations.

It’s an exemplary case study in how a local news operation can respond to a major rolling disaster story by using all the reporting tools available on the Internet.

Update: Mark Potts has a great blog post looking at the online coverage of the fires. What’s missing from local media’s coverage, he says, is user-generated content. Not so at the San Diego NBC station, though.

Both the Los Angles Times and San Diego’s public broadcasting station KPBS are using Twitter to provide rapid, rolling updates of the fires. A piece on a Wired blog explains how to do it. Both are also among those tracking their fire coverage on Google Maps.

All that and celebrities' houses in peril too. It doesn't get much more exciting than that.

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