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UGC links for Chile earthquake recovery

A few examples of user-led news initiatives around the Chile earthquake. We’ll add to this as we spot other user-generated content (UGC) examples.

  • New York Times Facebook group: “The New York Times is providing resources and news updates from our journalists in South America and from other sources around the web about the recovery efforts after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile on Feb. 27, 2010.”

And commentary:

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News tracker helps uncover cit-j story in earthquake aftermath

May 19th, 2008 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism

Behind the reported events of last week’s earthquake in China, a story of a citizen journalism was emerging.

Ronen Medzini, an Israeli student, affected by the earthquake in the Chengdu area was quoted by the Associated Press on the crisis in the area.

Medzini’s role in reporting the disaster, which was quickly picked up by other mainstream media, was in itself newsworthy – he reported the devastation around him in a text message sent to the AP, a citizen journalist breaking news on a mobile.

But how to detect this thread within the mass of reporting? Ian Cairns from Managing News, has blogged about how the system, which tracks and analyses mainstream and social media sources, did just this.

What is particularly interesting – and crucial – about how Managing News worked in this situation, is the collaboration between two of its features: a map displaying geotagged news items on a topic (in this case breaking news) and a tag cloud.

Investigating the tag cloud next to the map of news coverage of the earthquake, tags for both ‘Ronen Medzini’ and ‘cellular’ showed up, as such highlighting the cit-j element of the story which would otherwise have been buried.

Interesting how the visual representation of news trends, in this case, allowed the observer to quickly pick up on new leads in the reporting.

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Online Journalism China: shortcomings in the earthquake relief effort going unnoticed in the scramble to present a front of national unity

May 16th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

As the catastrophe and media blackout in Burma continues, coverage of the Wenchuan quake in China has taken centre stage.

While pictures and information on Burma are scarce, the international media has been given a free hand on the ground in Sichuan province, perhaps as natural disasters offer an unrivalled opportunity for the government to show itself in action.

Western media has produced some moving accounts of the tragedy as well as some more critical pieces on how the government has handled the rescue effort.

In the Guardian, Naomi Klein reports disgruntled parents lamenting the collapse of their children’s schools, and Tania Branigan quotes claims of corruption and misuse of funds.

Unsurprisingly, coverage here has primarily been on the rescue effort, the suffering and on Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao’s visits to quake-hit areas.

Domestic media has focused on the Party’s action plan and prominently featured press briefings detailing the government’s response, as well as making full use of photo opportunities for Party leaders.

Wen seems to have become the human face of the Party’s disaster relief efforts. He is visible in the same way that he was during the winter snow disaster; where he personally visited the gridlocked Guangzhou train station to address stranded spring festival travellers.

Thursday’s China Daily featured a picture of him holding two forlorn looking girls by the shoulder and quoted him as saying: “I am grandpa Wen Jiabao. You must hold on, child! You will be saved.”

China Daily has focused on the human cost and survivors’ tales, running capped-up front-page headlines “MAGICAL MOMENTS,” and RESCURERS RACE AGAINST TIME”.

Like the snow disaster, a lot of prominence is being given to donors’ generosity and volunteer rescue efforts (including those of foreigners on the ground) as China again attempts to present a united front.

However, the New York Times carries an excellent article asking why the government has accepted aid from Japan, Taiwan and Singapore but rejected offers from others.

Despite the huge mobilization of the army, the troops lack the necessary heavy lifting and drilling equipment to dig for survivors.

Such shortcomings seem to be going unnoticed amongst the scramble to present a front of national unity, and few here are asking why professionals from the West are being told to stay away.

According to China Media Project (CMP), critical coverage of the quake has apparently been banned by an edict discouraged by one of  numerous directives intended to stop the spread of malicious rumours stories that may show the authorities in a bad light.

However stories like this, on the poor structural integrity of the schools that have collapsed, seem to have passed unnoticed.

CMP also runs a translation of another editorial by Southern Metropolis Daily editor Chang Ping. Chang highlights the dubious nature of the law on spreading false rumours in the light of the public’s overwhelming demand for information regarding the quake.

The law has came to the fore after a number of false rumours also surfaced in chatrooms and forums alleging that the authorities had somehow been warned that the quake was coming but suppressed the information, it would have perhaps been easier to dispel some of these myths quickly if the ever present spector of the authroities didn’t loom large and automatically make people suspicious of any news that suggests underhand activity on their part.

It will be interesting to see if the commercial media will begin receiving pressure to avoid critical reporting in the coming days when fewer survivors turn up and locals face the grim task of moving the dead and contemplating rebuilding their towns and homes and lives.

That will be a time for much reflection – and a lot of reflection may lead to some touchy questions.

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BBC dot.life blog: Twitter and the China earthquake

May 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones muses on Robert Scoble’s claim that Twitter broke the news of the earthquake in China quicker than United States Geological Survey, which provides early warnings of seismic events.

“Let’s see, as this story unfolds, whether this is the moment when Twitter comes of age as a platform which can bring faster coverage of a major news event than traditional media, while allowing participants and onlookers to share their experiences,” suggests Mr Cellan-Jones.

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Breaking news of the UK Earthquake online and off

February 28th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

News of an earthquake that struck the UK in the early hours of Wednesday morning caused a surge in traffic to Sky.com/news with more page impressions recorded on the site at 1am than 9am, the site’s executive producer Julian March writes on the Editors’ Blog.

A similar effect was experienced by the Nottingham Evening Post’s site, HoldtheFrontPage reports, after it posted news of the quake within 30 minutes.

The site saw 1,821 readers visit between 1am and 2am – increasing this to 6,000 by 9am, 20,000 page views and 60 comments on the story – though it’s a shame they appear to have only opened this feature from 6am.

Both great examples of why it’s crucial to break news online – whether a local or national title – and get ‘ownership’ of the story to keep drawing those viewers back.

The BBC’s online and radio coverage was hot on the heels of the incident, though the video below – courtesy of student journalism blogger Dave Lee – suggests their TV news had to play catch up.

(I like the idea of competitive news watching between channels)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foD0YXHIknQ]

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