Good Mobile Journalism During a Bad Storm        

I’ll be honest it took me a while to find an actual piece of mobile journalism that depends heavily on social media. I managed to figure out why that is: social media and iPhones are specific tools that are most useful at precise time. They offer immediacy and swift tracking abilities. The only time a news organization with access to a fully equipped photography and broadcast van is going to dispatch a guy with an iPhone is during an emergency, when something quick and unexpected happens.

With that fact figured out I decided to go back a little to the ‘Blizzard of 2015’ (the bane of our first Monday classes). Even though that storm proved to be a disappointment for central New York most mobile reporters didn’t know that at the time as local meteorologists predicted three day long pandemonium for the Eastern seaboard. Live tweets announcements alerts and citizen photography was everywhere at the time.

 

Starting at 7:06 AM morning before the storm Zak Koeske from Long Island Advance, Staten Island Live, began stringing together tweets snaps of weather forecast presentations and local government announcements to introduce the story of a giant snow storm due to hit the eastern sea board. From that point on in a blog format Koeske updated the page every 10 minutes to an hour with additional information, ranging from more official closures to tweets from Mayor de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo. The coverage before the storm was more sparse and didn’t have a whole lot of substance in the form of images.

That all changed once the snow started. At 8:55 PM a video of a street in Staten Island was posted with the caption “calm before the storm”. In the light of a lamp post you can see a light flurry begin. That video was taken by Ryan Lavis. As the storm continued more videos by Lavis appeared. He was likely out taking video samples of the snow fall the entire time, reporting back to Koeske any time a major change occurred.

Tweets from citizens experiencing the storm and following the coverage were included, as the snow storm grew worse the updates got closer together.

My favorite part about this archive of daily updates to that day on Staten Island is the fact that it follows at the very footsteps of the story. As the storm tapered off the last few posts on the article are about how meteorologists seriously missed the mark on predicting the storm. It was not nearly as bad as anticipated. Koeske’s next update included a statement from some spokesperson from NY meteorology. In the statement he apologized to officials who had to make difficult decisions based on their predictions.

That aspect is my favorite because it reflects how dynamic a live reporter has to be. Koeske ditched the re-opening of city facilities updates immediately after the story shifted to evaluating storm predictions and government responses. The story finished with pictures from contributing staff of kids building snowmen. It was a nice, if not slightly offbeat ending for a story that had several New York Counties in a state of emergency.

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