California wildfires: a roundup

How do you react to a local disaster in the new media age?

Martin Stabe:

San Diego TV station News 8 … has responded to the crisis on its patch by taking down its entire regular web site and replacing it with a rolling news blog, linking to YouTube videos of its key reports (including Himmel’s), plus Google Maps showing the location of the fire.

There are links to practical information that their viewers will need at this time, inclduing how to contact insurance companies, how to volunteer or donate to the relief efforts, evacuation information and shelter locations.

Both the Los Angles Times and San Diego’s public broadcasting station KPBS are using Twitter to provide rapid, rolling updates of the fires. A piece on a Wired blog explains how to do it. Both are also among those tracking their fire coverage on Google Maps.

The Wikipedia entry for the fires is also becoming an impressive resource. As is becoming common in major news events, Wikipedians are pulling together the news reports from many different primary sources to produce a continuously-updated account.

Editor & Publisher:

The Los Angeles Times delivered breaking, and diverse, news … to millions of online readers in blog-like fashion, with brief dispatches from correspondents, added at the top. Many were in the human interest vein.

A box near the top of the Web site’s home page held changing numbers in large type. Around 9 p.m. they read: “429,862 acres burned…1,235 homes destroyed.”

The Hollywood Reporter:

Fox News Channel’s coverage included on-the-scene reports from Malibu and San Diego thanks to the efforts of college student journalists whose pieces for have appeared on Fox News Channel and

It’s the first pieces in a content partnership between Fox News and, a 3-year-old Web site that, among other things, features student-produced video reports aimed at the millennial generation. The reports from more than 100 schools nationwide are sent to thePalestra’s headquarters at Ohio State University and edited there by graduate-level student journalists. The ones for Fox News are reviewed by Fox News producers.

The last piece demonstrates just how important building local partnerships is when these stories break and you need lots of people on the ground.

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