Yesterday, I took some media sources to task for what felt like pretty light coverage of the devastation here in Tennessee. Today, I want to give some kudos.
I hardly watch TV news at all, and local news never, but I was glued to the outstanding coverage by News Channel 5, WSMV and WKRN on Sunday night. They occasionally succumbed to some typical TV tropes — like a too-long segment on the rescue of two horses and overindulgence of some crabby evacuated Opryland guests — but by far had the most reliable news first. There’s no doubt in my mind that some of the info they delivered was life-saving, as the whims of the waters grew more and more unpredictable.
Likewise, the Tennessean really stepped up to the plate. The staff pulled together an impressive web package overnight, with lots of practical info to snap dazed citizens into action, as well as scores of amazing photos. Its coverage kind of dropped off after hours Monday, but during the day it was incredibly fast. One nit-pick: The mobile site doesn’t seem to update regularly, so I was frustrated trying to get news on my phone when necessary …
…which brings me to social media. I’ve really talked some trash about so-called “citizen journalism,” but damned if I wasn’t wholly dependent on it for most of Sunday. Chris and I were out of town for the weekend, and the drive back was one of the longest of my life. We’d heard snippets of what was happening, from landlords and housesitters, but we pieced together the bulk of it from our friends’ Facebook updates, the terrific blog Nashvillest, and several Nashville-related Twitter feeds, including one devoted to traffic. Thanks to them, we were able to figure out how to get back into town, the status of the area where our dog was boarded and just generally what we might find when we got in.
Once home with the TV and laptop turned on, I still relied heavily on social media, especially the “I Survived the Great Nashville Monsoon of May 1st” Facebook group, which sounds silly but is really a source of great photos and news, and the Twitter hashtag #OtherSituation2010. At that point, I think I was just looking to connect with other Nashvillians, especially after the TV news and Tennessean went to bed. Yes, you have to take the social media stuff with a grain of salt — rumors abound — but in the face of something pretty scary, I found comfort in the virtual community.
It’s a bummer, but it really takes breaking news like this to separate the wheat from the chaff. When we dry out, I think people will remember who gave them the news they needed.