Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nimbleness and the News

At TST BOCES this year, we've talked a lot about the advantages of being a smaller, more localized organization than some other BOCES. It gives us the opportunity for a sort of agility that larger organizations just cannot have. If necessary, we should be able to turn on a dime to support new objectives or unexpected requests. We haven't entirely reached our goal of nimbleness, but we're getting there.

A few weeks ago, wearing my other hat as Director of Communications for the local Dems, I met with the editor of a new online newspaper, the Ithaca Voice. The paperless paper went live on June 15, and just five days later, this new medium was tested in the fire of a genuine disaster when a tractor-trailer laden with cars missed the turn at the bottom of State Street, avoided a group of construction workers, and barreled into Simeon's, killing one, injuring several, and nearly destroying a beautiful historic building at the entrance to the City.

What made the Voice's coverage stand out was its nimbleness. Other media tweeted from the site, but the Voice did so continuously and in depth. The Journal was limited by the fact that the accident happened on a Friday late afternoon, when much of the Saturday paper is already complete, and the paper does not publish on Sunday. The radio stations were hampered by lack of personnel and the fact that their local news coverage mostly happens in the morning. Other media arrived late to the scene, but the Voice had already been sending updates for hours on Facebook and Twitter, while putting together longer pieces on its website.

To its credit and reputation, the Voice clambered all over the story, interviewing key players, posting photos (but deciding not to post video of the incident itself), and generally comporting itself like a real, live, capable, scrupulous, nimble newsforce to be reckoned with.

UPDATE: And now the Voice reveals itself as a credible investigative tool as well, with an aspect of the story no one else has broken.

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