Amy Jahns' Blog

The Importance of Social Media During Storms

Posted on: July 25, 2010

On Thursday July 22, 2010, southeastern Wisconsin saw nearly 8 inches of rain in a matter of a few hours. Interstates, highways and streets flooded making roadways impassable. Many homes and business were filled with rain water and sewage. Sinkholes formed swallowing homes and SUV’s. Perhaps the most tragic news to come out of the storms was a young man who drowned after trying to escape flood waters.

When severe weather and destruction like this occurs, local news is watched to receive the most up to date information. TV news journalists gather as much video and information they can to keep viewers informed while watching their televisions.

That is all and well if you have power, but what if you were one of the thousands of people sitting in the dark?

In that situation, I turn to my battery operated cell phone with internet access. That night, I monitored the news through websites and twitter on my IPhone.  I was able to see pictures from my social media friends, and keep in touch with my husband who was stuck in the elements.

I was very grateful for the social media news folks I follow for posting and for the web producers providing the most up to date information on weather and street closures.

Social Media and website information during media coverage is so very important. It may be the only option to get the news to the people who desperately need it. 

TV News Stations have launched Facebook, Twitter and Apps for the social media savvy user to follow coverage. Stations also have producers dedicated to coverage on company websites.

 Although traditional TV viewers still need to tune into local news on their television sets, there is a growing number of people who may only get information from the web or who can only due to the weather.   

My hope is that stations start to truly keep up with the growing pace of social media for those who can only receive that information in that form.

On a side note, I saw this blog post on how social media users were the first to report some of the bigger stories that came out of the flood as well as the first to post photos.

This could lead into a whole new blog post on the rise of citizen journalism and why news media should embrace this new phenomenon, but I’ll save those thoughts for another day.


2 Responses to "The Importance of Social Media During Storms"

Great post, Amy! Thanks for the mention. Having watched the old media initially resist the Web, and to a lesser extent Social Media, it’s great to see them embracing it now in an ever growing way. It’s an important and exciting shift. Kudos to Pioneers like Journal Sentinel’s Mary Louise Schumacher (@artcity), TMJ4’s Susan Kim (@susankim4) and others for leading the charge.

Thanks for commenting. Being an “insider” at a local TV Station I know exactly how important it is to push forward with Social Media. Everyday, traditional media struggles to keep up with changing times. As more journalists embrace this change the more informed the public will be.

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