Yesterday a fire broke out near my high school, Granite Hills, in my hometown of Porterville, Calif. I initially heard about it from my mom and kept updated through looking at photos from my cousin's Facebook.
You may be wondering, why didn't I go to the local newspaper, the Porterville Recorder, to keep updated about the fire? They did write a brief report on the fire, but the report didn't necessarily fill my needs. And coverage of the fire after that report was severely lacking. *Note, when I read the report yesterday, the only information posted was the info under "Update 10:44 p.m. Saturday."
Considering that this is the biggest story to happen in Porterville since God knows whe, I was a bit dissapointed in the Recorder's coverage.
If you read the report, you'll probably understand how it left me with a lot of unanswered questions...is the school ok? Was anyone injured? Does anyone know how the fire started? Is anyone investigating? I understand that it's a small paper with limited staff. And I understand that there was only one reporter working at the time. But the fact that I didn't get any info on the fire from the Recorder for nearly 20 hours irritates me a bit.
Porterville's a small town, and the Recorder is a small paper. It has three full-time reporters and two photographer's, so obviously it's limited in its resources. With that being said, social media is a cheap resource would've allowed the resources to do so much even with the one reporter on the job. They could have kept their Facebook and/or Twitter posted with updates every hour. They could've engaged with readers who witnessed the fire. My friend Lauren, who currently resides in Seattle, made a storify post with info and reactions on the fire that I linked to earlier. The Recorder could've made a storify. Like I said before, there is so much the Recorder could've done with social media. But they don't understand how to utilize it very efficiently.
I didn't write this post to bash the Recorder or anything like that. I'm sure this is a problem for small news publications everywhere. I just wanted to say that the workers need to understand that there are so many options now with the web. Once they realize that, they'll be able to provide sufficient content for their readers. Even with limited resources we are able to live/work in a 24-hour news cycle, as long as we have an internet connection. I sincerely hope that, one way or another, the workers at the Recorder learn to use social media to their advantage, or they reach how to someone how can teach them how to use it. Because they desperately need the help.
Well that's the end of my rample. I initially wrote the bulk of this in a private Facebook message when my friend urged me to post it publically. Thanks, Lauren.