Disaster brings the Web into focus

All media’s use of the Internet — and in a unique way, blogs and blog technology — in keeping us and the whole world informed about the catastrophe in the wake of hurricane Katrina is a welcome recognition of its place in the media firmament. Here’s an excellent example. Let me echo the comments of fellow Nashvillian Rex Hammock:

The time has come to officially end all “blog vs. traditional media” debates. It’s the story that matters. It’s the lives that matter. It’s whatever it takes to get the word out that matters. I’m sorry it has to come down to life and death for some folks to get this.
I completely agree with Rex and certainly hope that a new respect for blogging will be one of the fruits of this disaster. The technology provides an easy and effective way to publish information, and rather than bitching about it, we’re seeing mainstream media outlets use it effectively. Let’s hope this clears the way for a new generation of mainstream blogging innovations.

But it isn’t just blogging that’s getting props today. The Web as a significant part of our daily media lives is coming into focus.

The Times-Picayune’s Web outlet, nola.com, remains one of the most important links in the media chain on this story. The paper is unable to publish the old-fashioned way, but they are able to communicate information to the rest of us via the Web. A newspaper is now joined forever with its Web distribution.

WWL’s live streaming has been amazing and the ability to do this has to be at the top of every station’s priority list.

One veteran TV news observer wrote this morning that a station’s Website had “remained up throughout the storm and its aftermath.” This is because the site — like most — is hosted on a server a thousand miles away. Getting fresh information TO the server is only a matter of logistics, because it can be done with something as simple as a cellphone connection.

Meanwhile, Steve Safran at Lost Remote reminds us of the valiant efforts by local radio stations. When you’re without power, TV and the Web don’t mean much.

Last night one of the nets showed people in a neighborhood without power listening to important, potentially life-saving information on their car radio. It has been fascinating for us to follow the storm on the web. But for those in the middle of it, radio is their lifeline.
Thanks for the reminder, Steve.

All media deserves a big thanks from us for the coverage. The efforts of the local and network TV personnel have been heroic, to say the least. Brian Stelzer at TVNewser continues to provide outstanding coverage of the coverage, as do my friends at Lost Remote.

Anything and everything I can say is trite by comparison, and my hat’s off to everybody involved.

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