Lessons From Reno: Time For A Disaster Drill

The Reno Gazette-Journal is a Gannett paper with a 54,000 Sunday circulation and a Facebook page that has 2,982 likes: RGJ.com – Reno | Facebook http://on.fb.me/oiqmNs

On a typical day, there would be four or five Facebook posts, including direct invitations to readers: Take our Reno casino history quizhttp://on.fb.me/rmNeU1.

When a plane crashed into the crowd at the Reno Air Race on Friday, the RGJ Facebook page and the @RGJ Twitter stream became essential parts of the information flow. One of the first posts was a call for reader photos or information. A community member who responded with a comment from the scene and made it clear that the toll was extensive: http://on.fb.me/q1CU1A

It was on Twitter, though, that @RGJ made more of a mark. Gazette-Journal reporters filed sentence-by-sentence updates on Twitter from the National Transportation Board briefings. Example below.

rgj RGJ.com NTSB: They found multiple memory cards at the accident site. Not sure if any of them are from the plane's video system. #renoairraces

rgj RGJ.com Rosekind: The memory card is the same kind you might have in your own video recorder. #renoairraces
rgj RGJ.com NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind is the official conducting the press briefing. #renoairraces
Has your newsroom udpated your disaster plan to match readers' digital expectations? How will you use social media? Will your FB and Twitter feeds be linked? When disaster strikes, will you handle these platforms following the same processes you do now? What is an appropriate pace for Twitter and Facebook updates? Will there be a 12-hour hole in your updating schedule?

Andy Carvin of NPR was one of the first to tweet about the audience video of the crash. He also tweeted a note saying how he found it

@acarvin: For those who asked: I found eyewitness to #renocrash and the long video by searching for "OMG" & various expletives in Reno.

Is your newsroom ready to beat the national media use of Facebook and Twitter to report from your own backyard? This is a good week to raise these issues at a staff meeting.

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2 Comments

Filed under Crowd sourcing, Social networking

2 responses to “Lessons From Reno: Time For A Disaster Drill

  1. Interesting post Carl, and speaks to the value local reporters bring when covering breaking national news in their backyard.

  2. Hi, Carl–I’m about to post a blog item saying that Twitter may be THE perfect delivery method for breaking news. That observation was based on coverage of last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and on last week’s primary elections. But you’re absolutely right: I was addicted over the weekend to the RGJ’s excellent coverage, particularly on Twitter, of the air-race tragedy.

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