Journalism links 8/15

As the stage rigging began to teeter, Laura Magdziarz grabbed her 3-year-old daughter, Maggie, by the armpits and delivered a one-word directive to Maggie’s grandmother and two older siblings: “Run.”

The next thing Magdziarz remembers is being on the ground amid the debris. Her arms were empty.

Maggie was a good five feet away, crying in her tutu, which she had worn to match Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. Magdziarz tried to stand but fell right back down — her leg was broken.

Maggie started walking to her, so she thought maybe her daughter was OK. Until she saw Maggie’s left arm — bone, flesh and blood, probably from elbow to wrist.

If you’ve not seen the video of the stage collapse in Indiana, you can find it here, along with a great piece of analysis from the local paper’s (solid) coverage. The crash is horrifying and, once again, it seems a miracle that the death toll isn’t higher. (Maggie is OK.)

If you like crisis communications here’s a solid analysis of what has and hasn’t happened after the disaster. Three of the bullet points from there:

The first rule of crisis communication is to “Be first. Be right. Be credible.” The very agencies that people are depending on for this information were not. And now that social media has become more prevalent, the days of depending on emailed press releases written by committees and regularly rescheduled press conferences are way over (a press conference was originally scheduled for midnight, and then rescheduled to 1:30 am. But they could have kept the news media up to date with occasional tweets and quick blog posts).

I’m struck by the irony of the authorities asking people to use social media to give updates while they barely use it themselves. Hopefully this will convince the first response authorities start to use it themselves.

The crisis communicators responding to crises like these need to start including social media in their own responses. Not only can they get news out to the public, they can respond to rumors and bad information immediately, squelching it, and getting out good information instead.

As I’ve been saying to students, scholars, firms and pretty much anyone else who would listen, you ignore these tools at your own peril.

From the same post at ProBlogService (Which, apparently, offers blog ghost writing. Really? Really?):

The news media would be smart to start streaming their news programs on their websites during emergencies like this. I was communicating with people in Chicago, Alabama, and even Toronto about the incident. All I’ve been able to do is send them to stories on sites, but they could watch this live if the stations would stream their emergency news broadcasts.

We’re coming back to that, but first a quick trip to California, where your rights are being further eroded:

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.1

“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says McDonnell, “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”

You’re beyond a slippery slope, here.

And considering that piece from Long Beach, I’d like to go back to Indiana, where Erik Deckers reports:

If you’ve ever had any doubt about the need for a smartphone, or the power that citizen journalists wield, know this: all of the footage and images that all the newscasts are showing, and the ones that the national news outlets will be playing over and over, came from people and their smartphones. Not news cameras recording the aftermath of an event, but real action shot by real people who were on the scene.

Traditionalist newspaper reporters don’t like it, but that doesn’t matter. We’re all reporters now. Except for in Long Beach, and select Florida towns, where you can get arrested if a cranky cop runs across your path.

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