You vs. MSM in Va Tech Shooting Coverage
As you see below, the Washington Post threw no less than 75 reporters at the story!! That is stunning. And when further reading the piece, there was concern among the editors on the Post because it was too windy to charter a private plane to fly their reporters to the Va Tech campus.
And then there was you, citizen journalist, crowd sourcing the story from any angle. NowPublic was fielding eye-witness accounts and sifting through rumors in real-time mode; ethical discussions about what information was appropriate to release and when (NowPublic had the name of the shooter's first victim very early on, perhaps before the main stream media knew) it was appropriate to do so.
The crew at NowPublic handled the chaos with grace and style and sensitivity and with more coolness and level heads than I've seen in major newsrooms during breaking stories. And they did with a fraction of the resources at the command of media outlets like the Washington Post or NBC News. And they did a more than commendable job.
What's the point? Simply this: that effort couldn't have happened without YOU, the citizen journalist. I've talked to many about citizen driven journalism or "crowd sourcing," whatever you want to call it, and many people I talk to ask "what's the use?" especially when there are places like the Washington Post throwing 75 people at the story. But that's exactly the point: with all the resources available to all of you, all of your friends and their friends... citizen journalism can be (should be) a force to be reckoned with. But it starts with you; you gotta believe in this... and then just jump in.
Point, click...National News Story
In a follow-on segment to this piece that I'll have in a couple of days, I'm going to lay out to you a case-study in "How to Hack the Media," and by that I mean how you, sitting at home, in your office, in the park, at Starbucks or on a beach in Nicaragua can break a story and have the likes of CNN, the Los Angeles Times and FOX News all chasing after your story.
Yes, it's true and it's almost too easy. I'll lay it out for you step-by-step, complete with a fresh example, using the story I broke a couple of weeks ago while knocking back some local brews in the sleepy little fishing village of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
The killings at Virginia Tech seized the Post newsroom last week. People in every section, from Metro to KidsPost to the editorial pages to Sports, turned on a dime.
Several editors heard Monday morning on CNN that two people had been shot. The Continuous News Desk confirmed that from the Virginia Tech Web site and sent three paragraphs that were posted at 10:28 a.m. on washingtonpost.com. Within a few hours, 75 reporters were on the story.
Monday was a scramble for facts. The stories were divided into two
main themes -- the human tragedy and how authorities handled it. The
Virginia Desk was the hub -- and seemed an oasis of calm. The more horrible the story, the calmer editors need to be.
Editor Mike Semel dispatched the first reporters to Blacksburg about 11
a.m. They were followed by six more Metro reporters, two Style
reporters, two photographers and a graphic artist. It was too windy to
take a chartered plane. Semel interrupted the noon news meeting to say
the death toll was rising. By about 2 p.m., veteran police reporter
Sari Horwitz had put the toll at 32. "My editors and I were so shocked.
We couldn't believe it was true. I called my sources back and grilled
them before we put it on the Web."