Wednesday, January 13, 2010

News organizations lean on Haiti bloggers for news from earthquake zone, create temporary blogs themselves

Individual and organization blogs assisted those hungry for news from Haiti following that island's massive 7.0 earthquake. The quake has been especially difficult to cover for journalists because of the extent of damage to the capital Port-au-Prince.

As of this morning, the New York Times coverage has been datelined from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Filling the gap has been individual blogs such as The Livesay [Haiti] Weblog.

The few things we can confirm – yes the four story Caribbean Market building is completely demolished. Yes it was open. Yes the National Palace collapsed. Yes Gov’t buildings nearby the Palace collapsed. Yes St Josephs Boys home is completely collapsed. Yes countless countless - countless other houses, churches, hospitals, schools, and businesses have collapsed. There are buildings that suffered almost no damage. Right next door will be a pile of rubble . .  Thousands of people are currently trapped.
Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog posted a YouTube video of the destruction:

The video is not sourced and leads back to YouTube which was posted by CBS. But the video is clearly from Reuters, who themselves do not source the video. This is an example of how news resources like amateur, or even professional, video is spread around the web -- unattributed to the original source.

Several organizations tried to keep their followers informed through their Haiti blogs. The Bethany Christian Services blog reported the quake.
Yesterday an earthquake, measured at 7.0 on the Richter Scale, hit about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince shortly before 5 pm.  It is being called one of Haiti's largest disasters, and the largest earthquake to hit the country in 200 years . . . We have not heard directly from God's Littlest Angels (GLA), but they have posted on their blog that all are okay.
The GLA blog, as referenced above, reported that their members are OK and reported on events:
The internet phone has not stopped ringing.  BBC, NBC, the Today Show all have called multiple times! . . . We continue to have aftershocks.  We have had 3 in the last 5 minutes!  I have never heard of aftershocks like we are having!   They are almost continuous and lasting for a minute or more each time!  I do not like this! . . . We will know more hopefully in the morning.  I do not know if I will sleep tonight or not!  I will post photos later on Wedneday [sic].
Major news outlets have launched Haiti blogs themselves to keep readers informed on the latest news coming out of the Haitian capitol. The Guardian's blog can be found here.

Creating temporary news blogs seems to have become standard operating procedure in situations like the Haitian earthquake. Information can be quickly added to the blog and it is assumed that readers know that the news published there is not as well vetted as that which might appear in a bylined story. Though there has been some criticism of the practice.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have also launched Twitter feeds -- another attempt to gather together otherwise unorganized information. The Post Twitter feed appears on its own site, while the Times feed is leads to Twitter.

This move to take advantage of Twitter seems to be a natural outgrowth of Twitter's use during the early stages of the Iran protests of last year.
Original post appeared on Citizen Publishing.