Here’s an example of how mainstream media increasingly fails to give a comprehensive view of what’s happening during a disaster, and why social media has overtaken it. The USTREAM channel Occupied Air ran by Thorsten Caristo was used to broadcast the personal tragedy he and his wife (or girlfriend) were going through during Hurricane Sandy.
The New York City West Village Two-Flat Apartment they had was being flooded with water courtesy of the storm, which caused the water from the Atlantic Ocean to reach over levies and into a good portion of the island of Manhattan. The Occupied Air broadcast was peppered with Caristo’s commentary on the events going on outside, as well as inside: “there are transformers exploding…a car is floating away.”
I found the channel out of complete frustration with the coverage disconnect between mainstream media and social media. Specifically, Twitter had the New York University Hospital power outage as a trending topic, yet no cable or regular news channel paid attention to what was going on until CNN got cameras over to the hospital much later – about 11 PM PST.
CNN could have closed the reporting gap by posting tweets under the #Sandy hashtag at the bottom of its screen, or at least devoting a segment of 10 minutes on messages, tweets, and video that were up. The CNN iReport is good, but because it’s only video and photo based, and designed as a closed-loop system, it presents the problem of not being as widely used as social network platforms.
Occupied Air Is Fine
CNN aside, I’m happy to report that the Occupied Air people are fine, according to the chat stream from last night.