A fiery new reality

Mark Hamilton weighs in the Knoxville warehouse fire coverage that I wrote about here. He quotes extensively from University of Tennessee journalism professor Bob Stepno’s post on the fire and adds:

Count all the different bits and pieces of media that Bob found telling the story of the warehouse fire. Note that there is as much cit-j as pro-j in the mix. Note how quickly it happened. Look at this: “…the News Sentinel’s KnoxNews.com had five stories, three slide shows, links to a half dozen videos and as many bloggers’ reports.”

That’s the new reality of journalism. Newspapers that aren’t ready for it are at risk because there are other organizations out there in the community: hyperlocal journalism sites, local aggregators and group bloggers and the like. And Google finds them just as easily as they find the local newspaper.

In additon to the fabulous content that the non-pros created, the Knoxville News Sentinel’s vets also did a great job of responding to the new rules of news. The police reporter at the scene, veteran reporter Don Jacobs, dictated updates to Web producer Katie Kolt. He shot video and hustled that in. An off-duty photographer, Saul Young, who happened to be nearby at an Old City nightspot when the fire started, got a ton of photos and came back to the office to get them to a Kolt to go on the Web.
Somewhere between the the cit-js and pro-js, we had the student-js, who also got great photo coverage.
Now that the smoke’s cleared and icicles have formed on the ruins, it is a fascinating event to look at in terms of news coverage. And the journalistic fire it exposed is just starting to burn.
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